NEWS IN SHORT

State-owned Transpetrol spent €704,000 on luxurious sky box

THE MONOPOLY state-owned crude oil carrier Transpetrol owned by the Economy Ministry has been renting a luxurious sky box at the Bratislava stadium for together €704,000 since 2010. The stadium belongs to ice hockey club Slovan HC, owned by Juraj Široký, an alleged sponsor of the ruling Smer party.

THE MONOPOLY state-owned crude oil carrier Transpetrol owned by the Economy Ministry has been renting a luxurious sky box at the Bratislava stadium for together €704,000 since 2010. The stadium belongs to ice hockey club Slovan HC, owned by Juraj Široký, an alleged sponsor of the ruling Smer party.

After the Sme daily published the information on August 7, Economy Minister Pavol Pavlis of Smer requested a written statement from Transpetrol’s Board of Advisors. Then, he concluded that everything is in line with the law.

“I concluded that on the contract in question neither the law nor internal regulations have been violated,” said Pavlis, as quoted by Sme on August 14, adding that as the firm has published the invoice on the web it cannot be accused of non-transparency.

Nevertheless, the opposition wants to look into the revelation through parliament’s economy committee.

The sky box, with a capacity of 10 to 14 seats and a 20-seat meeting room, is among the smaller ones at the stadium. Transpetrol argues that the rent goes to promoting Slovak hockey, especially after Slovan entered the Kontinental Hockey League (KHL). Pavlis agrees, adding that the firm uses the sky box for meetings with strategic business partners from Russia, Sme reported.

However, Slovan has been playing in the KHL since the 2012/2013 season, while Transpetrol has been renting the sky box since September 2010, according to the daily.

Transpetrol has refused to publish the basic data on the rent, as well as its overall expenses for propagation purposes which went to Slovan, which is against the law, Pavel Nechala of corruption watchdog Transparency International Slovakia told Sme.

The Interior Ministry declined to comment on whether the money is being spent effectively, as it is not a supervising body, Miriam Žiaková, the ministry’s spokeswoman, told private broadcaster TV Markíza.

“The amount of money is too serious just for the possibility to meet someone for several hours per week,” Peter Kunder of political ethics watchdog Fair-Play Alliance told Markíza. “Money spent in this way may easily go back into the bags of the party’s sponsors, for example.”

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