THE SMER party is one of the most transparent in Slovakia about its financing, this year putting its annual report and lists of donors on the Internet at www.smer.sk.
The party reports that it obtained Sk2.5 million in company donations and Sk827,000 in gifts from individuals, together accounting for about 20 per cent of its total Sk15.2 million in revenues. Among the largest donor firms were energy sector businesses and corporate lobbies.
Smer's largest donor last year was the Eko-S Trans firm, which gave Sk1.2 million. Eko-S Trans gave roughly the same amount to Smer in 2000, the same year the powerful financial bloc Penta Group donated Sk1 million to the Smer foundation on the occasion of a Holocaust remembrance ceremony.
Eko-S Trans, as a minority shareholder in the Dopravná poisťovňa (DP) travel insurance house, brought DP to bankruptcy in 2002 after failing to repay a bank loan DP had guaranteed. Charges were later filed against the DP managers who signed the loan guarantee.
Q-Nova, whose Bohumil Hanzel and Július Homola are active Smer members (Hanzel was a candidate for Smer election campaign leader, while Smer candidate Homola was elected main auditor for the Trenčín self-governing region) gave Sk250,000 to the party in 2001. Hanzel is also head of the Q-Ex firm leasing billboard space to Smer.
PPA Controll, which participated in the final stages of the Mochovce nuclear plant control system, gave Smer Sk200,000. "We're pragmatists," said PPA director Ivan Novák of the gift. PPA's Ladislav Kováč and Karol Pavlů are members of the Association of Businessmen (Združenie podnikateľov).
Another energy sector company, the Energoclima firm of Piešťany, gave Sk50,000; from 1996 to 2000 they were part-owned by energy utility Slovenské elektrárne.
Arms trader Omnitech gave Sk100,000; chairman of the board Peter Palko was a Smer candidate for Trenčín in regional elections.
The Mecom meat firm of Humenné gave Smer Sk110,000, as well as donating Sk100,000 to the HZDS opposition party of Vladimír Mečiar.
5. Aug 2002 at 0:00 | Tom Nicholson