SLOVAKIA’s government faces losing millions of euros because of a law requiring profits made by private health insurance companies to be returned to the health care system.
HICEE, the Dutch shareholder in the private Slovak health insurance company Dôvera and a member of the Penta financial group has filed a claim against Slovakia for restricting it from earning profits, the Hospodárske Noviny (HN) daily wrote.
HICEE requested almost €500 million in compensation for its damaged investment but the state refused a settlement. Prime Minister Robert Fico said HICEE’s request was “rude and blackmailing”.
The Finance Ministry is now working to select the arbiter and the lawyers who will defend the government, Miroslav Šmál, the spokesman of the ministry, told HN.
HICEE will be using the services of the American firm Sidley Austin LPP, a law firm which Barrack Obama once worked for. According to HN, it is one of the world’s top 20 law firms, specialising in legal cases between governments and businesses.
The controversy started after parliament passed an amendment to the law on health insurance companies which banned them from paying dividends to shareholders.
All private health insurance companies operating in Slovakia stated that they would take steps to protect their investments, HN wrote, among them Eureko, a shareholder in the health insurer Union, which said it would take legal action against the government.
2. Feb 2009 at 0:00 | Compiled by Spectator staff from press reports