FINANCIAL watchdogs from Slovakia's Supreme Audit Office (NKÚ) have found more irregularities in government agencies, issuing reports in mid June that highlighted procedural breaches in the country's Economy Ministry and "a huge number of shortcomings" in the Slovak Paralympic Committee (SPV).
While the NKÚ's findings at the Economy Ministry identified a lack of proper oversight of the ministry's management of the Slovenské elektrárne electricity producer, auditors say that the SPV's marketing partner, the privately owned Horec firm, kept between 40 and 60 percent of funds collected for Slovak athletes with disabilities.
"The accounting and economic management [of SPV] was in such a state of decay that our auditors had to literally reconstruct certain accounting items," said NKÚ vice-chairman Igor Malý, adding that between 2000 and 2002, Sk75 million (€1.8 million) in state funds went to support the SPV.
Auditors say that SPV will have to return Sk5.8 million (€138,000) that was used contrary to existing budgetary rules.
"They mixed their own operating resources with funds offered from the state budget in their coffers, and also in cross-transfers between their listed resources," said Malý.
"It is sad that the SPV will lose nearly Sk6 million that should be used for the benefit of handicapped athletes," he said, adding that he had already sent relevant materials to financial police for further investigation and possible prosecution.
"The reaction to the report was the resignation of [former SPV chairman Karol] Mihók," said Ján Riapoš, the organisation's current head, to state television channel STV. Riapoš added that cooperation between SPV and Horec would not continue.
In a separate report, NKÚ officials said the Economy Ministry contravened its own rules when preparing state guarantees on loans to SE worth Sk6 billion (€143 million), and had no representative on the SE supervisory board for several months, despite being the only shareholder with executive rights.
The ministry also waived rights to fees and interest on overdue payments of Sk2 billion (€47.7 million) from two of Slovakia's three regional electricity distributors from 1998 to 2002, said Malý.
In addition, investigators found that between 1992 and 2000, no audits had been carried out on the actual use of state-guaranteed loans to SE.
Officials from the ministry, however, countered that they are kept abreast of the management of SE and that other criticisms have been, or are being addressed.
"Representatives of the [Economy] Ministry in the organs of SE directly report on the happenings of the company," said Economy Ministry spokesperson Katarína Ševčíková.
"In addition, several other problems that the NKÚ reproached the ministry for were solved before the end of the audit," she said.
30. Jun 2003 at 0:00 | Dewey Smolka