“The upcoming GDPR deadline, the newly implemented the anti-money laundering directive, and the newly implemented payment services directive are what’s keeping Slovakian companies and hence, law firms busy these days,” reports Silvia Belovicova, Partner at Squire Patton Boggs in Bratislava.
“The anti-money laundering directive, first and foremost, is changing the know-your-customer procedures for all financial institutions. The analysis for certain types of transactions and customer service is expanded, and it also changes the criteria for doing basic reviews of clients,” explains Belovicova. She adds that the EU directive requires a more advanced and more in-depth scrutiny of both clients and transactions.
“Now the internal systems need to be adjusted," she says. “New competencies have been vested with the financial intelligence unit of the Ministry of the Interior in Slovakia which is supervising compliance with the law, but guidance as to certain details relating to implementation is still missing, so I would say that for the compliance department this is quite a challenge.”
Turning to Slovakia’s implementation of the PSD II, introduced in January 2018, which has impact not only on PSIPs and AISPs and banks but on all e-shops and telecom operators — ultimately, everyone involved in electronic payment systems — the Squire Patton Boggs Partner says that the new directive is also generating a lot of work for both companies and firms at the moment.
She says that the recent protests in the country relating to accusations of criminal conduct and corruption at the highest levels of the country’s government have not yet affected business, and that the financial sector, where she specializes, has seen no negative impact or slowdown in transactions as a result — though she concedes that circumstances could obviously change should the current political tension continue.
“If we are to consider practices, I would say that the core business at the moment is real estate, both on the financing side and the development/acquisition side,” says Belovicova, adding that in recent years a large number of significant developments have been appearing in Bratislava, and around the country. Arrival of Jaguar Land Rover and its suppliers and the new logistics facilities of Amazon are one of the reasons behind the construction boom. But these new investors are facing a serious lack of technically qualified workers at the moment. “There are not enough Slovak people to fill in the positions, so a lot of workers are coming to the country, for example from Serbia and Romania," she says. "Employers are complaining that schools are not teaching students the skills they need in professional life." In addition, she says, part of the problem relates to the "still very low mobility of Slovak people." She sighs. "Education should really become a top political priority in Slovakia. Unfortunately, it is not these days.”