STANISLAV Žiačik had a rather short public-service career this summer as a nominee of the Slovak Democratic and Christian Union (SDKÚ) party. After just two months in the post of general director of Tipos, Slovakia’s national lottery company, he stepped down on September 28 citing personal reasons.
Žiačik had been under scrutiny from both the company’s supervisory board and the media for awarding a contract worth €150,000 to promote Tipos' 2010 Christmas lottery to VYV, an advertising agency of which he was previously a co-owner and for which his wife had worked until last year.
Finance Minister Ivan Mikloš appointed Žiačik’s successor the next day. The state-owned lottery firm will now be run by Miloš Ronec, a 39-year-old manager who previously worked for Datalan, an IT firm.
Mikloš, also a nominee of the SDKÚ, said last week that he was considering sacking Žiačik if the supervisory board of Tipos found his conduct had involved serious violations of ethics rules.
“If it is confirmed that there has been an abuse of the position [of a state official] and advantages given to a firm to which he is linked, I will take action,” Mikloš said, as quoted by the Sme daily.
However, Mikloš told the media on September 29 that the assessment of the supervisory board of Tipos is that Žiačik had not violated any laws or internal regulations of the company. Mikloš added that Žiačik did not specify his personal reasons for submitting his resignation.
Žiačik is saying goodbye to this particular position for a second time. He served as the general director of Tipos during the second term of the government of Mikuláš Dzurinda between 2002 and 2006.
In the spotlight
Ever since the Christmas lottery advertising contract was inked Žiačik has been in the media spotlight, but as recently as September 27 he had stated that it was only a matter of unfair media pressure, writing on his blog that “if journalists achieve the result that Minister Mikloš sacks me, then this country will deserve nothing but the return of Robert Fico to power”.
“The case which is today linked to my name is something similar to an inquisition,” Žiačik also wrote. “Journalists are accusing me of abusing my post and of passing a deal to a firm that I have not co-owned for nine years.”
According to Sme, Žiačik owned shares of VYV in the past and his wife was working within the company in 2009. The current owners of VYV were active in the firm during the time that Žiačik co-owned the company and the daughter of one of these current owners, Lenka Holešová, had been hired by Tipos as assistant, Sme reported.
Fico: Unprecedented impertinence
Former prime minister Fico, leader of the opposition Smer party, called the contracts awarded by Tipos to VYV “unprecedented impertinence” and said before Žiačik’s resignation that he and his party would closely monitor the response of the governing coalition.
The VYV advertising agency received state contracts during Žiačik’s previous management of Tipos. Sme reported that during this four-year period the firm collected more than €970,000 in fees, which according to information provided by Tipos represented about 15 percent of its total advertising budget over that period.
When developing the advertising campaign for the Christmas lottery, Sme reported that Žiačik had also approached the Istropolitana and Good Ad advertising agencies but that VYV was picked because it made the best price offer.
Žiačik’s past career includes employment with the Petit Press publishing house, where he served as a member of its board of directors from 2000 until 2002, at which time he left the company.
Petit Press is the publisher of the Sme daily as well as The Slovak Spectator.
4. Oct 2010 at 0:00 | Beata Balogová