THE SLOVAK Spectator asked Ján Hrubala, head of the cabinet's anti-corruption unit about the draft law on proving the lawful origin of property. Hrubala is one of the law's co-authors.
The Slovak Spectator (TSS): Are there many people in Slovakia who should fear the law requiring proof of the origin of their assets? Who are these people?
Ján Hrubala (JH): Everyone whose assets exceed provable income by more than 200 times the minimum wage, which today is about Sk1.1 million (€26,200) might fear the law. Successful people who have accumulated their property by hard work or by other legal activities certainly do not have reason to fear it.
The law is directed only at those who live considerably beyond their legal means and who in a proper court proceedings will fail to document the acquisition of their property through legal activities.
In other words, if the state gains credible documents about for example several million crowns worth of assets belonging to a person who lives on a legal wage of Sk30,000 (€714) per month, or if it finds that a businessman who regularly reports losses and at the same has a large amounts of assets, it will be possible to inspect the origin of this property.
It would only be speculation, however, to estimate the number of people who gained their property illegally. There are many hints, however, that in Slovakia such cases are not rare at all.
TSS: Do you expect pressures against this presumably unpopular law during the legislative process?
JH: The determination of the Justice Ministry and cabinet office's anti-corruption unit is definitely strong and there is no reason to retreat from that.
There will certainly be voices against the law and these would presumably point out that the law is not in line with the constitution mainly in relation to the constitutional guarantee about the protection of private property.
But when preparing the law we were aware of all of these risks and we tried to design the text so that the law complies with the constitution.
TSS: Does similar legislation exist in any of the surrounding post-communist states or in western Europe?
JH: Italy, Great Britain, Ireland, the US, Canada, Hong Kong, and Australia are just some of the states that have decided to fight against illegal income and money laundering through civil law and approved similar legislation. These countries have realised that crime is often one step ahead of the chances of it being revealed and that the criminal law is not enough to take steps against those whose total assets are in obvious conflict with their legal income.
21. Jul 2003 at 0:00 | Martina Pisárová