Smer financing case dropped

AN INVESTIGATION into accusations of illegal party financing by Smer, the biggest party in the Slovak Parliament, has been halted, Interior Minister Daniel Lipšic has announced.

Dobroslav TrnkaDobroslav Trnka (Source: Sme)

AN INVESTIGATION into accusations of illegal party financing by Smer, the biggest party in the Slovak Parliament, has been halted, Interior Minister Daniel Lipšic has announced.

Lipšic announced the decision, which was made by the prosecutor handling the case, following earlier statements by General Prosecutor Dobroslav Trnka suggesting that Lipšic had interfered in the police investigation.

However, the police investigator later denied that she came under any pressure and said that, based on the evidence, she had concluded that the case should be pursued.

Trnka told the media on December 8, a day after he had failed again to be re-selected for his post by parliament, that the investigator who had been assigned the Smer financing case had been put under pressure. He hinted that the pressure might have come from Lipšic, his deputy, State Secretary Maroš Žilinka, and police president Jaroslav Spišiak.

Lipšic dismissed Trnka’s allegations, saying no pressure had been placed on the investigator, and accused Trnka of lying.

In a statement issued on December 9 by Peter Kovařík, the director of the police's Anti-Corruption Office, the investigator, who has not been named, denied that she had been pressured.

The main material submitted for investigation was an audio recording, which the Sme daily published shortly before the general election in June 2010, in which a voice resembling that of Smer leader Robert Fico brags about having secured funding for the party from undisclosed sponsors several ears before, bypassing its official accounts.

“I can only say that I have secured – and this is what I can tell, and I hope no one is listening – [I have] secured for this year 35, for the next [years] about 40, plus other things,” the voice on the recording, published on Sme’s website, says. “I have secured them, like the money, with my own head.”

The figures are believed to refer to millions of Slovak crowns; Sk30 million is now equivalent to about €1 million.

Lipšic also confirmed the existence of the recording and provided it to the General Prosecutor’s Office, to be added to a criminal complaint that his party had earlier filed over suspicions related to Smer party financing.

In reaction, Fico called the recording “nonsense” and a fake, and a part of an “anti-campaign” against the Smer party and his government before the June election.

The Sme daily reported on December 9 that special prosecutor Dušan Kováčik had dropped the criminal inquiry into Smer financing two days earlier, and that as a result police experts could not get the chance to evaluate the authenticity of the recording or the signatures on contracts that were also provided to the prosecutor.

Later the same day the police investigator said she had concluded that the case should be pursued based on the available evidence.

Kováčik, Sme reported, stopped the prosecution on the grounds that both Robert Fico and Fedor Flašík, whose voice also allegedly appears on the recording, stated that the voices on the tape are not theirs.

“The special prosecutor in his conclusion stated that the documents are fake,” police president Spišiak said,as quoted by the Sme daily. “He did so on the basis of statements from the involved
persons. Now it is not possible to find out whether they are fakes, or have been edited. It will only be possible to further speculate, and create various theories that will never be objective[ly tested].”

Kováčik did not comment on his decision to stop the investigation. Neither did minister Lipšic.

“It’s enough to publish the conclusion for everyone to make their own opinion,” he said, as quoted by Sme.

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