State audit chief claims blackmail attempt

The head of an independent state audit body has reported an attempt to blackmail him into changing his critical stance on a corruption scandal embroiling Prime Minister Mikuláš Dzurinda’s SDKÚ party.

Jozef Stahl, head of the Supreme Audit Office (NKÚ), said an anonymous caller told him yesterday that if he didn’t retract his criticism of a state tender awarding a multi-billion crown contract for new rail engines to Swiss firm Stadler AG, ‘compromising material’ would be published.

Stahl reported the case to the Attorney General’s Office, saying “I will not be blackmailed.”

Stahl’s office has said the Swiss firm’s bid was over Sk800 million ($17 million) more expensive than an offer from the French company Alstom, adding that the tender process, run by a state railways commission led by the Prime Minister’s brother Miroslav, had been untransparent.

In other events related to the growing scandal, members of parliament yesterday voted to have Stahl appear before the legislature and present his findings. The motion was supported by 76 of the 126 members present in the 150-seat legislature, and by deputies for three of the five ruling coalition parties.

President Rudolf Schuster also continued to delay approving Dzurinda’s demand that Transport Minister Jozef Macejko be fired, explaining that while the constitution said he had to accede in the matter, it did not say when. Schuster, who heard a report from Stahl yesterday, said he was too busy to sign the minister’s dismissal before next week.

Compiled by Tom Nicholson from press reports.
The Slovak Spectator cannot vouch for the accuracy of the information presented in its Flash News postings.

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