Branisko tunnel crew unearthed

Police in April charged 10 people with racketeering andfraud in relation to the construction of the five-kilometer Branisko tunnel on the main highway route linking east and west Slovakia. Roman Veselka (bottom left), Dušan Matonok (bottom center) and Valérian Horváth (bottom right), who formerly worked as top managers at the state-run Slovak Roads Administration (SSC), allegedly uthorized the payment of fictitious invoices for work on the tunnel that was never done. The three were appointed to their posts

(Source: SITA)

Police in April charged 10 people with racketeering andfraud in relation to the construction of the five-kilometer Branisko tunnel on the main highway route linking east and west Slovakia. Roman Veselka (bottom left), Dušan Matonok (bottom center) and Valérian Horváth (bottom right), who formerly worked as top managers at the state-run Slovak Roads Administration (SSC), allegedly uthorized the payment of fictitious invoices for work on the tunnel that was never done. The three were appointed to their posts

by the then-ruling Slovak Democratic and Christian Union (SDKÚ) party. Construction costs on the tunnel rose from the Sk670 million agreed in the initial contract to Sk1.97 billion after the final accounts were delivered. According to Prime Minister Robert Fico (at left, top), who announced the police charges at a news conference, the surplus funds were sent to a central bank account in
Switzerland and then divided up. Each of the three managers allegedly had private bank accounts in Switzerland containing millions of crowns from the swindle. A man Fico named only as “Gabriel P.” allegedly had signing rights on these accounts. The media

identified the accused as Gabriel Palacka, a former transport and telecom minister in SDKÚ leader Mikuláš Dzurinda’s first administration who was forced to step down in 1999 for corruption. Palacka and the three former SSC managers rejected the charges, but Fico promised that the investigation would lead on to Liechtenstein and Great Britain.

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