Slovenia, ECB Face Off after Central Bank Raid

Slovenian prosecutors have defended their decision to raid the country’s central bank in an investigation into a 2013 bank bailout, defying threats of legal action by European Central Bank (ECB) President Mario Draghi.

mariodraghiMario Draghi (Photo: World Economic Forum, CC BY-SA 2.0)Draghi on Wednesday sent a letter to Slovenian State Prosecutor General Zvonko Fiser to “formally protest” the raid the same day on Bank of Slovenia offices in Ljubljana, in which he said state officials had unlawfully seized ECB information.

“In addition, the ECB will also explore possible appropriate legal remedies under Slovenian law,” Draghi wrote.

Slovenian police searched four locations in the Slovenian capital on Wednesday as part of investigation into possible irregularities during a 2013 rescue of the country’s banks. Draghi, in a separate letter to European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, said hardware and networks at the Bank of Slovenia contained information belonging to the ECB that was protected by “the Protocol on the Privileges and Immunities of the European Union.” 

Fiser, however, said on Thursday that the raid was legal and out of his control as it was ordered by an investigating judge, according to a press conference transcript sent by Slovenian prosecutors to OCCRP. Slovenian police have also said the move was legal.

Reuters reported the investigation is related to complaints over a 3 billion euros ($3.33 billion) 2013 bailout of local banks struggling under bad loans.