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Fico: Choice of advisor in SPP's privatization illegal

Speaking at a news conference in Bratislava on January 9, Slovak PM Robert Fico said that the choice of privatization advisor eight years ago for Slovak gas utility SPP was in contradiction with the law. According to Fico, the current Government has discovered that unaccounted-for expenses amounting to more than Sk227 million (€6.7 million) were paid out.

Speaking at a news conference in Bratislava on January 9, Slovak PM Robert Fico said that the choice of privatization advisor eight years ago for Slovak gas utility SPP was in contradiction with the law. According to Fico, the current Government has discovered that unaccounted-for expenses amounting to more than Sk227 million (€6.7 million) were paid out.

"We also uncovered the illegal payment of Sk257 million to the privatization advisor. In total, the advisor let the Government pay it (PricewaterhouseCoopers) more than Sk1 billion for advising it to chose one out of one applications," emphasized Fico.

He also pointed out that if the then-government had picked the advisor that was registered as the second choice, the state would have saved money – as "the second advisor set the maximum amount of payment at $18 million (more than Sk700 million at that time)". Fico continued that there were no documents on competition conditions concerning the choice of strategic investor in the privatization process itself.

"There are no notary minutes from the opening of offers and the evaluation of the offer. They simply don't exist," said Fico, adding that this has been pointed out not only by the Government, but also by law enforcement authorities. "We have also found out that the government by its resolution in 2000 set the market value of SPP at $6-8 billion (Sk240-320 billion). In the end, SPP was sold for Sk130 billion, which was $2.7 billion," said Fico.

Prosecutor General Dobroslav Trnka, who was recommended by the Government on January 9 to verify the privatization, said that there was nothing new he learned in connection with the SPP sale from that day’s Cabinet session. TASR

Compiled by Zuzana Vilikovská from press reports

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