THE YEAR IN POLITICS

Party financing cases outstanding

In mid January, Smer boss Robert Fico dug up a long-dormant case concerning the past financing of the SDKÚ and seasoned it with information about what he called money laundering, fictitious firms and tax-haven bank accounts. Fico asserted that the SDKÚ channelled money through foreign accounts supervised by its officials. After Fico’s statements, SDKÚ leader Dzurinda publicly admitted that his party was unable to answer all the questions that journalists were asking about the party’s financing between 2000 and 2004.

Mikuláš Dzurinda Mikuláš Dzurinda (Source: TASR)

In mid January, Smer boss Robert Fico dug up a long-dormant case concerning the past financing of the SDKÚ and seasoned it with information about what he called money laundering, fictitious firms and tax-haven bank accounts. Fico asserted that the SDKÚ channelled money through foreign accounts supervised by its officials. After Fico’s statements, SDKÚ leader Dzurinda publicly admitted that his party was unable to answer all the questions that journalists were asking about the party’s financing between 2000 and 2004.

Observers suggested that Fico was trying to overshadow some of the still-smoking political scandals generated by his ruling coalition comprising Smer, SNS and the HZDS.

Fico opened up the SDKÚ financing case on January 22, after a four-and-a-half-year lacuna. The case involved a so-far unexplained transaction which helped the party to clear its then-Sk22 million (approximately €730,000, at current exchange rates) debt and at the same time allowed it to sell its Medená Street property for Sk27 million (approximately €896,000, at current exchange rates). Fico initially suggested that the unidentified owners of Swiss bank accounts and shell firms in tax havens were involved in the deal. Then, on January 27, Fico claimed that the SDKÚ is controlled by shell companies based in London, with CEOs operating in tax havens and holding accounts in Swiss banks.

After Fico published the first information, Dzurinda said that his party had already paid the price twice for unanswered questions pertaining to his party’s financing between 2000 and 2004: once in 2002, and again in 2006, in the parliamentary elections. Since then, the party’s financing has been completely transparent, he said.

Nevertheless, the ruckus around the financing resulted in Dzurinda stepping down as the election leader of the party, creating room for Iveta Radičová to climb to the top of the SDKÚ candidate list.

Then, shortly before the 2010 parliamentary election, the Sme daily received and published an audio recording featuring a voice resembling that of Fico.

The conversation on the recording implied that Smer might have accepted campaign contributions from sponsors that were not properly recorded in the party’s financial accounts. On the day that Sme posted the recording on its website, Fico said that he would sue Sme’s editor-in-chief, claiming that the newspaper was running an “anti-campaign”.

Interior Minister Daniel Lipšic, who in May 2010 was an MP for the Christian Democratic Movement (KDH), confirmed that he also had a copy of the same recording and had given it to the General Prosecutor’s Office, asking that it be added to a criminal complaint that KDH had previously filed against Smer alleging lawbreaking related to the party’s financing.

Fico called the recording nonsense and a fake, stating that he can produce many such recordings.


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