Culture Minister Milan Kňažko recalled Marek Ťapák, director of the Bratislava theatre Nová Scéna, for not following measures adopted after a 1999 governmental audit.
A report following the audit ordered the theatre to cancel disadvantageous contracts signed by its former director Ľubomír Roman with the Erco and Olympia companies. Since 1993, Nová Scéna has rented café space to Olympia, which was supposed to pay rent to the theatre through the firm Erco. In 1995, the theatre signed another contract with Erco which rented space to Roman's private West theatre.
Nová Scéna did not receive any rent payments, taking an estimated loss of more than Sk5 million ($104,170) on the space. Moreover, Erco and Olympia are owned by relatives of Roman. The ministry had submitted the case to the Attorney General for further investigation but grew dissatisfied with Ťapák for not taking action in the meantime.
"Mr Ťapák did not react to the measures in the report following the audit," said Milan Kňažko, "But only after we ran our own audit did we find he had not cancelled the contracts."
Ťapák countered that loopholes in the contracts had been removed in 2000 and that the contracts were cancelled on November 30, 2001, following a meeting with the Minister.
Nová Scéna's employees expressed their disapproval of Ťapák's recall in a letter to the Minister in which they also complained that director of radio Twist Andrej Hryc, who has been temporarily charged to run Nová Scéna, had appointed his daughter as statutory representative of the theatre.
Meanwhile Ľubomír Roman is set to become the first Chairman of the Bratislava region following his victory in the country's first-ever regional elections earlier this month.