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European Anti-Fraud Office looking into Slovak bulletin-board tender

The Construction Ministry's controversial bulletin-board tender, which was supposed to have been co-financed by the European Union, may require even more funds from Slovak state coffers. The Hospodárske Noviny financial daily reported on Wednesday, November 25, that not only will Slovakia get no contribution from Brussels towards the consulting, legal and information services procured by the Construction Ministry, but that Slovakia might get a fine because of the way the contract was tendered.

The Construction Ministry's controversial bulletin-board tender, which was supposed to have been co-financed by the European Union, may require even more funds from Slovak state coffers. The Hospodárske Noviny financial daily reported on Wednesday, November 25, that not only will Slovakia get no contribution from Brussels towards the consulting, legal and information services procured by the Construction Ministry, but that Slovakia might get a fine because of the way the contract was tendered.

The European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF) is dealing with the case at present, though several days ago the European Commission halted infringement proceedings against Slovakia in the case after the Construction and Regional Development Ministry cancelled the contract, which was with a consortium of four companies. Two of these companies were reported to have close links to the Slovak National Party (SNS), which under the present coalition has the power to nominate the construction minister.

Few details have emerged about the OLAF investigation. Construction Minister Igor Štefanov is refusing to comment on the issue until the Slovak Supreme Audit Office completes its ongoing audit. Expert on European legislation Radovan Geist of the Euractiv website explained that OLAF does not have the authority to levy fines directly, adding that if the office concludes that rules have been violated the EC will decide what to do next.

The tender in question was won by the sole bidder. The Supreme Audit Office and the Public Procurement Office have confirmed in previous audits that the tender violated the law.

Compiled by Zuzana Vilikovská from press reports
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