Croatia and six banks reach agreement on arbitration proceedings related to Swiss franc loans
ZAGREB, February 2 (Hina) – Finance Minister Zdravko Marić said on Tuesday that an agreement had been reached with six banks on an arbitration proceeding regarding the conversion of loans indexed to the Swiss franc, which would avoid the potential payment of at least 2 , 5 billion HRK from the state budget. .
“I am pleased to be able to confirm that an agreement has been reached with the six banks which have initiated proceedings before the International Center for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) in Washington and before national courts, as well as with those who, at this stage, have not yet launched such a procedure, ”Marić said at a press conference.
He recalled that Zagrebačka Banka, Raiffeisen Bank, Erste Bank, OTP Bank, Addiko Bank and Société Générale had initiated legal proceedings against Croatia before the ICSID and the Zagreb Commercial Court in order to obtain compensation for the costs resulting from the conversion of loans indexed in CHF.
On the basis of the agreement reached, the proceedings initiated by Zagrebačka Banka, Raiffeisen, Erste and OTP would be suspended with immediate effect. The deal also applies to Privredna Banka Zagreb and Sberbank, although they have not taken any legal action against Croatia.
No deal has been reached with Addiko and Société Générale, which is no longer present in the Croatian market, but dialogue will also continue to try to find a solution with them, Marić said.
Citing proceedings before ICSID, he said there were certain steps that had to be completed within six months, after which the arbitration proceedings would be suspended for good.
Marić said that thanks to the deal, the potential payment of at least HRK 2.5 billion from the state budget was avoided, adding that HRK 482 million was linked to the lawsuits in the Zagreb Commercial Court. and about HRK 2 billion in proceedings before the ICSID. .
Marić said Croatia has so far paid 127 million HRK for court fees, lawyers and expert witnesses fees and similar fees for cases before ICSID. He noted that the agreement reached did not involve any additional costs for the government.
Asked about the government’s commitments under the deal, Marić said the banks recognized the government’s efforts to improve the business environment and further align national legislation with EU standards and guidelines, as well. than the measures taken to adopt the euro. He thanked the banks for the constructive dialogue and for recognizing the efforts of the government.
In 2015, Croatia amended the Consumer Credit Act and the Credit Institutions Act allowing the conversion of Swiss franc loans into euro-indexed loans, which led to legal proceedings by banks.
Currently, there are 13 cases against Croatia before ICSID and four of them will now be dropped, which is certainly important for Croatia’s international reputation, Marić said.
Today, the Constitutional Court must rule on the legal actions brought by the banks against the judgment of the Supreme Court which confirmed the nullity of the exchange clause in CHF for loan contracts concluded between 2004 and 2008, and this stop is important for 125,000 families who have entered into loan contracts with the CHF exchange clause. Marić said this case was unrelated to the topic of this press conference.
(€ 1 = 7.56) HRK