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Government advisor in alleged corruption case is identified

Former Slovak ambassador to Kenya Igor Liška, who has been accused of corruption relating to the construction of a sports stadium in the village of Osrblie in central Slovakia, has identified Martin Novotný, the former economic affairs advisor to Prime Minister Iveta Radičová, as the person who provided information about subsidies for the biathlon stadium.

Former Slovak ambassador to Kenya Igor Liška, who has been accused of corruption relating to the construction of a sports stadium in the village of Osrblie in central Slovakia, has identified Martin Novotný, the former economic affairs advisor to Prime Minister Iveta Radičová, as the person who provided information about subsidies for the biathlon stadium.

The Sme daily reported on Tuesday, August 16, that Liška told an investigator that he was cooperating with Novotný, but when addressing the judge presiding in Liška‘s custody hearing, he denied corruption. Liška said he passed on information received from Novotný to businessman Peter Kňazík, who was building the stadium. He said that Kňazík offered 10 percent of the subsidy as a bribe.

The prime minister's spokesman, Rado Baťo, said that information about government support for the biathlon association has been widely available since February and that anyone interested in the subject was able to follow developments on the internet. Novotný was active in the area of human resources and corporate affairs. The state was expected to provide €1.6 million to the project, of which €300,000 has been paid. The police allege that 10 percent of the latter sum was paid as a bribe.

Sme wrote that Radičová herself picked Novotný as an advisor. Novotný owns the firm, Via Europe, where police allege that the €30,000 bribe was accepted. Novotný said he would talk to Slovak police immediately upon his return from the United States, where he is currently staying.

The chairperson of Radičová's board of advisors, Marián Balázs, said that the prime minister intends to investigate properly the corruption claims surrounding the Osrblie stadium and to punish anyone who accepted bribes regardless of the positions they held.

He added, as quoted by the Hospodárske Noviny daily, that the whole board of advisors supports the government's programme to fight corruption and cronyism. Balázs said that external aides have no influence on final decisions over financial subsidies and stressed that Radičová had fired Novotný because "he had lost her trust". Three suspects have been accused of indirect bribery in connection with construction of the Osrblie stadium. They were detained at the end of July, when they allegedly accepted the bribe of €30,000.

Sources: Sme, Hospodárske Noviny

Compiled by Zuzana Vilikovská from press reports
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