After only four months Draško Veselinovič in no longer CEO of Nova Ljubljanska Banka (NLB). In a surprise move the bank’s Supervisory Board accepted resignation Veselinovič submitted a month ago. The move is surprising because it was a) obvious from the start that Veselinovič offered to resign (but stopped short of actually resigning) only to placate those who screamed for blood when it transpired that NLB extended a loan taken out by Infond Holding (one of many companies in a web that controls Laško Brewery) to help out in Boško Šrot’s takeover of Laško. Even more surprising is the fact that Supervisory board accepted the resignation a month after it was submitted. The debate was initially scheduled only days after Veselinovič made his move, but then the session was cancelled, seemingly to protect Veselinovič and defuse the situation which reached boiling point when Minister of Economy Matej Lahovnik threatened to resign.
Draško Veselinovič during happier times at the helm of NLB (photo by Matej Družnik/Delo, source)
At this juncture is not exactly clear what happened. Draško Veselinovič is a prominent figure of Katarina Kresal’s LDS, who was about to become MP after KK was appointed Minister of Interior. Draško took a pass, however, and enabled Tone Anderlič, an old LDS hand to become MP. In return Veselinovič was named CEO of NLB, a position he was overtly interested in. And since LDS and Katarina Kresal didn’t make a lot of trouble during the coalition negotiations, things just fell into place. With the small exception of Veselinovič being named without a tender, although NLB is still controlled by the state and that the Quartet promised greater transparency in selecting leading cadre in state-owned companies.
It took PM Pahor a lot of energy to calm down the shitstorm that erupted after Veselinovič was appointed, and it is entirely possible that he just couldn’t hold Gregor Golobič and Matej Lahovnik of Zares back anymore and had to give in. Unconfirmed rumours have it that president of the Supervisory board met with Finance Minsiter Franci Križanič only minutes before the session started and this line of thought goes that Križanič relayed a message saying that Veselinovič ran out of political cover.
Whether or not the above is true is actually only of tangential relevance. What is more important is the effect Veselinovič’s removal will have on the relations within the coalition. LDS president Katarina Kresal publicly stated that the decision was for the Supervisory Board to take and that it must be respected. However, is obvious that her party was just denied an extremely strong powerbase and that must not go down lightly either with her or LDS leadership in general (on that note: it will be interesting to see if her authority within the party will get challenged as a result).
On the other hand, this is a very big victory for Zares’ Gregor Golobič and Matej Lahovnik, who were extremely disconcerted by the fact that their former brethren in LDS were re-establishing themselves so quickly, as well as by the manner in which this was achieved. Truth be told, there is more than meets the eye to their continuous calls for tenders to be held instead of taking cloak-and-dagger decisions, but this will have to wait for another day.
And finally, it seems that PM Pahor had to give in to Golobič if he wanted to avoid appearing as if he condones the so-called “tycoon loans”.
However, Newton’s third law applies in politics as well. Every action is met with equal but opposite reaction. And it will be interesting how LDS will hit back. Because hit back it will