Could Tomislav Coric Become Most Powerful Name in Banking Sector?

Lauren Simmonds

Updated on:

Commons/Wikimedia/Aron Urb (EU2017EE)
Tomislav Coric
Tomislav Coric

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Ana Blaskovic writes, while Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic is busy calculating with the government reshuffle, which has (once again) been eroded by varying scandals, there is speculation on the sidelines that Economy and Sustainable Development Minister Tomislav Coric could continue his career as the vice governor at the Croatian National Bank (CNB).

Since the return of Martina Drvar to the European Central Bank, the position of Vice Governor for Supervision has been open since the middle of last year. It’s a proverbial “hot seat” in which a key person sits in order to supervise the legal operations of banks. In her hands lies the power to prescribe millions in fines to the most powerful players on the Croatian market, which is why, both directly and indirectly, she is often open to the barrage of pressures from the banking sector, especially when their profits are touched.

Damir Odak doesn’t have adequate support

Although it has been mentioned that Damir Odak could return to the post, he allegedly lacks the support of those in power who resent him for being close to Governor Boris Vujcic. Unofficially, it can be heard in the parliamentary corridors that the seat is “reserved for Tomislav Coric” and that (for now) there are no other candidates being looked at. It’s unclear at this moment in time whether it is possible to have a kind of rotation of vice-governor positions and in that case, Tomislav Coric might take over another department, and one of the current vice-governors would take over that role in supervision.

“At the moment, only Tomislav Coric is being mentioned, but there will probably be no official proposal before the prime minister announces the details of the reconstruction,” it has been said among circles close to the parliamentary Committee on Finance and the Budget.

Regarding his possible departure to the CNB, Tomislav Coric briefly said that he is “without comment on all non-departmental topics”. Therefore, Coric, a doctor of science and former assistant professor at the Department of Finance at the Faculty of Economics in Zagreb, doesn’t seem as if he’s rejecting this option.

Dissatisfaction within the CNB

The CNB is allegedly resisting all notions of Tomislav Coric, believing that this is a key function that requires exceptional knowledge of the banking system and the way in which it functions.

There has as yet been no official comment from the CNB on the alleged idea. Governor Boris Vujcic is a member of a Croatian delegation led by Finance Minister Zdravko Maric, who travelled to the International Monetary Fund’s annual assembly in Washington last week. Unofficially, however, the choice didn’t really please them much, especially since the return of Odak was expected.

“Within the CNB, the entrance of Tomislav Coric is being resisted. This is a key function that requires exceptional technical knowledge of the banking system, as well as of many domestic and European Union regulations. This is one of the most responsible technical positions in the entire country. It’s problematic to recruit from the political sphere to an extremely demanding professional position,” claimed a well-informed source.

The collapse of integrity

On the condition of anonymity, those who spoke about the matter commented that regardless of Tomislav Coric’s indisputable educational qualifications, his appointment would be a firm step in undermining the integrity of an institution that should be totally independent of politics.

The last two rounds of appointments at the very top of the CNB’s structure were politically coloured, with the key exception that Martina Drvar, as the undisputed expert, was the governor’s choice back in 2018. To briefly recall, before the amendments to the law on the central bank, the governor chose his own closest associates.

“We’re practically facing a situation in which the CNB Council is the majority politicised body, and that’s the defeat of the independence of yet another of this country’s institutions. In that sense, it’s probably good that we do go ahead and introduce the euro (join the Eurozone) and that the ECB takes control of systemically important Croatian banks,” concluded one of the aforementioned well-informed sources.

For more, make sure to check out our dedicated politics section.


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