A Luxembourg court ordered the setting aside of EUR 29.5 million in Slovak funds seized by Dutch insurer Achmea, owner of Union zdravotná poisťovňa. The money - now lodged in various bank accounts in Luxembourg – is to be deposited in a special bank account where it remains outside the reach of Slovakia. After the successful completion of the relevant legal procedures in Luxembourg the money will be transferred to Achmea.
In recent weeks Achmea managed to seize substantial amounts of Slovak financial assets, lodged in various bank accounts in Luxembourg. Today’s court order takes into account the magnitude of the sums Achmea is entitled to receive from Slovakia. Achmea was authorized to seize Slovak assets after obtaining prior court approval to enforce in Luxembourg an arbitral award rendered in Achmea's favour on December 7, 2012. The Luxembourg court based its approval to enforce the award on the 1958 Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards (‘New York Convention’).
The seizure of Slovak assets follows the December 2012 award of an International Arbitral Tribunal that ruled that the Slovak Republic had breached relevant provisions of the 1992 Bilateral Investment Treaty between The Netherlands and the Slovak Republic. The Slovak Republic was ordered to pay Achmea compensation for losses suffered as a result of measures that had restricted Achmea’s rights as the owner of Slovak health insurer Union zdravotná poisťovňa. The Slovak Republic also was ordered to reimburse Achmea’s legal fees. Despite repeated requests for the transfer of these monies the Slovak Republic persisted in a refusal to pay, forcing Achmea to take more drastic steps.
Achmea’s Chairman of the Board Willem van Duin explains: “By seizing these funds we exercise our right to enforce the claim as it was granted in the Award by the International Tribunal. We asked the Slovak Republic several times to take its responsibility as an EU-member and live up to its obligations. Until today, they refrained from doing so. Achmea has pointed out several times that it would use all legal means available to exercise its rights.”