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New Mečiar-era privatisation details

IT HAS BEEN alleged that during the 1994-1998 period, when the country was ruled by a coalition comprising the Movement for a Democratic Slovakia (HZDS), the Slovak National Party (SNS) and the Slovak Workers’ Association (ZRS), Slovak state assets were sold to private companies under unclear conditions as a result of which the country might have lost billions of crowns.

IT HAS BEEN alleged that during the 1994-1998 period, when the country was ruled by a coalition comprising the Movement for a Democratic Slovakia (HZDS), the Slovak National Party (SNS) and the Slovak Workers’ Association (ZRS), Slovak state assets were sold to private companies under unclear conditions as a result of which the country might have lost billions of crowns.

More than a decade on, Štefan Gavorník (ZRS), the then-head of the National Property Fund (FNM), a state institution founded to control privatisation, has revealed details of how the sale of state assets was managed, for instance via weekly privatisation coalition councils, the Sme daily reported.
“That was political privatisation,” Gavorník said, as quoted by Sme, explaining that there was a list of properties and their owners-to-be. He said that if then-prime minister Vladimír Mečiar said that that was how the council should vote, they did.

“All of us who were sitting there were lobbying for those who were visiting us,” Gavorník continued. “[Current President Ivan] Gašparovič was doing the same.”

Gavorník also spoke about Gašparovič – the then-speaker of parliament – and his involvement in the privatisation of Nafta Gbely in 1996, which is today seen as the pinnacle of Mečiar-era privatisation practices. Assets owned by Nafta Gbely, a gas storage company, worth Sk3 billion were sold for Sk500 million to the Druhá Obchodná company connected to Vladimír Poór, who at that time was HZDS boss in Trnava. According to Gavorník, Poór acted for Gašparovič.

“It was known that Poór was behind it,” Gavorník said. “And it was known that he was doing it for someone.”

Gašparovič did not answer any of Sme’s questions about Gavorník’s recent revelations.

“We consider all the articles connecting the president with the privatisation of this company as damaging the good name and personal honour of Ivan Gašparovič, and we will take legal steps against them,” Marek Trubač, the spokesman of the president told Sme.

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