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Slovak assets seized in dispute between state and Achmea

A Luxembourg court has ordered the sequestration of €29.5 million of assets owned by the Slovak Republic as part of a legal action brought against Slovakia by the Dutch company Achmea, which is the owner of Slovak public health insurance firm Union, the TASR newswire reported on May 23, citing Bert Rensen of Achmea.

A Luxembourg court has ordered the sequestration of €29.5 million of assets owned by the Slovak Republic as part of a legal action brought against Slovakia by the Dutch company Achmea, which is the owner of Slovak public health insurance firm Union, the TASR newswire reported on May 23, citing Bert Rensen of Achmea.

The assets are currently located in several accounts in Luxembourg. They will be placed in a special account beyond the control of the Slovak government.

“After the relevant legal moves in Luxembourg are carried out successfully, the funds will be paid to Achmea,” said Rensen.

According to Rensen, Achmea was entitled to initiate the seizure of Slovak assets after receiving the consent of the Luxembourg court to execute the verdict of an arbitration dating from December 2012 in Luxembourg.

“The international arbitration court in December 2012 ruled that Slovakia had violated provisions of a bilateral investment agreement between the Netherlands and Slovakia from 1992,” said Rensen.

“We asked Slovakia several times to behave like an EU member vis-a-vis its duties and to meet its commitments,” said Achmea chief executive Willem van Duin, as quoted by TASR. “Slovakia hasn’t done so to this day.”

Radko Kuruc, the Slovak Finance Ministry’s spokesperson, said that the dispute between Slovakia and Achmea was continuing, and the assets in Luxembourg would remain Slovakia’s property until the dispute was properly resolved, TASR reported.

“Even though Achmea is aware that the dispute hasn’t been concluded, it has carried out inappropriate moves and initiated the seizure of Slovakia’s assets,” said Kuruc.

Kuruc noted that German courts are yet to decide on Slovakia’s request to overturn the decision of the arbitration tribunal, and that Luxembourg courts should also rule on a request by Slovakia to block the seizure.

“Slovakia carried out the necessary steps anticipating the possible seizure of property six weeks ago in order to protect its interests as a sovereign state and its citizens,” said Kuruc.

Slovakia lost the lengthy arbitration case brought by Achmea in December 2012. The international arbitration court decided that the country must compensate Achmea for damage caused to it by a ban on health-insurers retaining their profits which was introduced by Robert Fico's first government (2006-10).

Source: TASR

Compiled by Jana Liptáková from press reports
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