Yesterday saw the beginning of the annual congress and conference of the German association Der Bund der Versicherten (BdV) in Berlin, which was also attended by the PanSlovenian Shareholders' Association (VZMD) President, Mr. Kristjan Verbič, at the invitation of the organizers. As part of this year's 4th tour of VZMD's international programs, Mr. Verbič had arrived in Germany already on Monday evening to attend a few meetings, among others also with the representatives of the "sister-association" BdV which focuses on the protection of financial services users with an emphasis on various insurances, and collaborates with VZMD within the European Federation of Investors and Financial Services Users (Better Finance).

In addition to attending the conference, Mr. Verbič addressed the attendees at last night's evening reception as the Executive Board member and the official representative of the Better Finance. The federation will hold a voting General meeting on Friday in Stockholm, where the VZMD President will run for his second term on the Executive Board of this influential European association. In addition to Better Finance's annual General meeting, an international conference and numerous events and meetings will take place in Stockholm to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Swedish shareholder association (Aktiespararna).

PRELIMINARY PROGRAMME_Opportunities_for_participation_in_VZMD_International_investors_Programmes_investo_si_and_invest-to_net_in_the_2016_april_Page_1Next week marks the beginning of this year's fourth tour of the PanSlovenian Investors' & Shareholders' Association (VZMD) international business--investor programs: Invest to Slovenia – investo.si and International Investors` Network – invest-to.net, in the context of which the VZMD President, Mr. Kristjan Verbič, will visit Germany, Sweden and Chile.   

In Berlin - where Mr. Verbič was invited by the German sister association »Bund der Versicherten«(BdV) - he will attend the association's conference and the annual general meeting; following this, he will participate at an important voting general meeting of the European Federation of Investors and Financial Services Users (Better Finance) in Stockholm, where he will run for his third term on the Executive Board of this influential European association. In addition to the annual general meeting, an international conference and numerous events and meetings will take place in Stockholm to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Swedish shareholder association (Aktiespararna).

Following Wednesday's ceremonial conclusion of the 2nd European Congress of Local Governments, the PanSlovenian Investors' & Shareholders' Association (VZMD) President, Mr. Kristjan Verbič, returned from the Polish town of Krakow where he actively participated, among others, at the "Investments as a Driving Force Behind Economic Development of the Regions" round table at the invitation of the organizers. During that time, he presented numerous opportunities of the Slovenian economic environment, as well as the activities and plans of VZMD's international business-investor programs: Invest to Slovenia – investo.si and International Investors` Network – invest-to.net. This was met with great interest by the participants, and Mr. Verbič yet again answered concrete questions. This included questions regarding the expropriation of investors in "Bank NKBM" shares at the Warsaw Stock Exchange (WSE) which, unfortunately, seems to be a perennial issue in Poland when establishing business and investment relations with Slovenia.  

The VZMD welcomes the fact that also now the Supreme Court of the Republic of Slovenia bolstered the opinion, voiced by the VZMD's associates since December 4, 2013 when they lodged the first initiative for a constitutional review of the amendment of the Banking Act (ZBan-1L) – that this law with which the self-proclaimed "domestic troika" nationalized as many as six Slovenian banks is unconstitutional and even to such extent that it violates a number of constitutionally protected human rights.

Yesterday, the competent authorities in Slovenia received letters with a call for action due to detrimental effects of abolishing registry accounts. In the letter the VZMD President, Mr. Kristjan Verbič, pointed out that the VZMD had been contacted recently by worried and anxious minority shareholders who have received alarming letters, had to take alarming phone calls and have received invitations to alarming meetings probably with the intention of burdening their continued ownership of own securities with disproportionate costs in order for the"financial industry" to yet again benefit from disproportionate earnings.

Given the fact that the President of the Government of the Republic of Slovenia, Mr. Miro Cerar, and the Minister of Finance of the Republic of Slovenia, Mr. Dušan Mramor, even after a little longer than a month have not responded to the open letter sent by the President of the European Federation of Investors and Financial Services Users (Better Finance), Mr. Jean Berthon, and in the context of endeavors to begin solving the issues of the subordinated bonds and shares of Slovenian banks constructively, the PanSlovenian Investors & Shareholders Association (VZMD) also reached out to the international and global media which have not basically reported on the subject thus far.

A meeting of the Corporate Finance Standing Committee (CFSC) and its Consultative Working Group (CFSC CWG) took place yesterday in Paris at the headquarters of the European Securities and Markets Authority - ESMA, and was actively attended for the first time after his appointment to this important body by the VZMD President, Mr. Kristjan Verbič.

At today's second public hearing in the case "Kotnik and others" which took place at the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg due to the expropriation of shareholders and bondholders of Slovenian banks , the Advocate-General of the Court published his reasoned opinion in which he proposed the explicit answers to the questions posed by the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Slovenia, stating that the expropriation of the shareholders and bondholders of Slovenian banks was neither necessary nor unavoidable for the stabilization of the banking system and allocation of state aid.

After reviewing the Advocate-General's reasoned opinion, VZMD's associates and lawyers can repeat with reinforced certainty their position that it was not necessary for the Republic of Slovenia to amend the Banking Act as to allow for retroactive expropriation, since the Banking Communication is not a legally binding act on the EU member states. It has to be noted that the court in Luxembourg does not assess the conformity of legislation with the Convention on Human Rights, as this falls under the jurisdiction of the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Slovenia and the European Human Rights Court in Strasbourg. Nevertheless, it clearly arises from the reasoned opinion that the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Slovenia will have to reach a decision itself assessing whether amendment of the Banking Act constituted a breach of the Constitution of the Republic of Slovenia. Namely, the Slovenian courts must assess the content to determine whether the exceptional measures of the Bank of Slovenia were legitimate or not, taking into consideration all the protective regulation prohibiting the violations of ownership rights which the VZMD believes were severely infringed.

The European Federation of Investors and Financial Services Users (Better Finance) has addressed an open letter to the Government of the Republic of Slovenia and the EU Commission noting the issue of complete expropriation cancellation of subordinated bonds from six Slovenian banks.

The letter follows an extensive discussion held by the Better Finance's General Meeting in November in Paris when a member of the VZMD Expert Council, Mr. Tadej Kotnik, and VZMD President, Mr. Kristjan Verbič, presented the scandalous expropriation of shareholders and bondholders of Slovenian banks, "Bail-in: How far does it have to go?" (presentation).

In its letter, Better Finance President, Mr. Jean Berthon, underlined the fact that some of the canceled bonds had been sold to individual investors over the bank counters as an alternative to deposits, while the brochure, which had been certified by the Securities Market Agency (ATVP), claimed that the risk of loss only existed if bankruptcy proceedings were initiated against a particular bank. Bonds were traded publicly also at the Ljubljana Stock Exchange and trading was in no way limited only to "well-informed" investors.

This intolerable situation in Slovenia has been going on for over two years, and Better Finance pointed out that during this time several bank "bail-ins" happened in the EU, but these proceedings were also completed - either by an investor settlement or settlement negotiations are already underway.

Since the Republic of Slovenia has not begun any such activities yet, Better Finance pointed out with deep concern that persisting on this kind of attitude toward expropriated investors and savers will have adverse consequences on the Slovenian investment atmosphere and the perception of the business and economic environment in the Republic of Slovenia.

Due to the above, Better Finance urged the European Commission and the Government of Republic of Slovenia in particular, to immediately examine the possibilities to resolve this untenable situation and begin settlement proceedings as soon as possible.

Better Finance's letter was sent last week to European Commission President, Mr. Jean-Claude Juncker, European Commission Vice-President for Jobs, Growth, Investment and Competitiveness, Mr. Jyrki Katainen, Commissioner for Financial Stability, Financial Services and Capital Markets Union, Mr. Jonathan Hill, the Prime Minister of the Republic of Slovenia, Mr. Miro Cerar, and the Finance Minister of the Republic of Slovenia, Mr. Dušan Mramor. A courtesy copy was also sent to VZMD President, Mr. Kristan Verbič, who is also a member of Better Finance's Executive Board.

 

The European Federation of Investors and Financial Services Users of which VZMD has been a full member since its foundation, is an European non-governmental organization bringing together over 50 national and international associations representing the interests of shareholders, individual investors, and other financial services users.

In a decision that could affect tens of thousands of investors in Spain, the Supreme Court has ruled that Spanish Bankia has to reimburse two plaintiffs who invested 9,997 € and 20,868 € respectively when the bank was floated. This will probably pave the way for other investors who lost money on their investments to pursue legal action, and Bankia has already put aside over 1.8 billion € for this contingency.

The Bankia case is reminiscent of the Slovenian NKBM case. In 2011 Bankia shares were offered to investors and due to the government's encouragement and assurances, the shares were mostly purchased by domestic inexperienced investors, who bought them with the pension saving purposes.

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Following successful completion of the "Slovenian Center" project during the European Handball Championship in Wroclaw, Poland, (VIDEO), this February marks the beginning of this year's 2nd tour of the international business-investor programs of VZMD: Invest to Slovenia – investo.si and International Investors' Network – invest-to.net. These days the island of Grand Cayman is the venue of the important conference Alternative Investment Summit 2016, which is also attended by the VZMD President, Mr. Kristjan Verbič, at the special invitation by one of the event partners.

The prestigious conference at the eminent Ritz-Carlton hotel entitled "Supercharging Alternative Investments in an Age of Uncertainty", was opened by the Prime Minister of the Cayman Islands, Mr. Alden McLaughlin. The events, with Dart Enterprises, KPMG, the Ritz-Carlton and Deutsche Bank as their principal partners, are attended by the most prominent investment bankers and enterprise representatives such as: The Blackstone Group, Apollo Global Management, Aberdeen Asset Management, Highland Capital Management, Arbiter Partners Capital Management, Global Health Investment Fund, Darsana Capital Partners etc.

In addition to the international investment funds' representatives, the conference is also attended by many other influential and noticeable people such as the American TV presenter and comedian Jay Leno, the founder of the Virgin Group Sir Richard Branson, the actresses Jamie Lee Curtis and Meghan Markle, and many others.

Apart from interesting developments at the conference, which has become a renowned platform for innovative thinking about alternative investments in the past three years, Mr. Verbič also attended the evening's reception by the renowned law firm Mourant Ozannes.

The tour continued in London, where Mr. Verbič was invited to the grand conference celebrating the fifth anniversary of the European Banking Authority – EBA.

Alongside the European handball championship matches, which are this year taking place also in the Polish regional capital city of Wroclaw, several important business and social events took place within the "Slovenian center - I feel Slovenia" (VIDEO). In addition to the members of the Slovenian handball team, high representatives of Poland and Slovenia, and prominent economic delegations from both countries, the opening of the center was attended also by exceptional Slovenian supporters who created an extremely positive atmosphere.

 

Within the "Business opportunities between Slovenia and Poland" conference, opened by the Minister for Economic Development and Technology, Mr. Zdravko Počivalšek, Slovenia's tourist, sport and cultural attractions, as well as some examples of best practices and additional possibilities for strengthening economic relations and business cooperation were presented. The conference was followed by B2B meetings by both business delegations where great interest was shown for expanding and strengthening the collaboration in future.

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