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Controversy escalates over sale of platinum filters from state reserves

Slovakia’s State Material Reserves’ Administration (SŠHR) sold 63,000 grams of platinum filters with a rhodium admixture for €667,000 in an electronic auction when the market price of this amount of platinum with rhodium might have been €2,425,000, the TASR newswire reported on October 16.

Slovakia’s State Material Reserves’ Administration (SŠHR) sold 63,000 grams of platinum filters with a rhodium admixture for €667,000 in an electronic auction when the market price of this amount of platinum with rhodium might have been €2,425,000, the TASR newswire reported on October 16.

The platinum filters were bought by Heneken company, according to TASR, and apparently the owner of the company is Michal Hudoba, 27, who ran for parliament in 2006 on the Slovak Democratic and Christian Union (SDKÚ) slate.

TASR wrote that a representative of Heneken company gave its winning bid just one second before the auction ended but that the company does not consider the purchase price low.

The head of the SŠHR, Eva Hrinková, who was head of the Government Office when Mikuláš Dzurinda was Prime Minister, did not comment.

Heneken company later sent an explanatory statement to the SITA newswire which claimed that the filters were not of the best quality, were oxidised and needed to be chemically cleaned.

The administration of the state material reserves had not, by October 27, explained the sale of the platinum sieves.

SDKÚ chairman Mikuláš Dzurinda denied any involvement by his party though both people involved in the case are close to his party, the Sme daily wrote in its October 28 issue.

Hrinková was not available for comments so it was not clear whether the electronic auction was accessible to all interested bidders and fair, Sme wrote.

Sme reported that Hrinková was appointed to her position by Economy Minister Juraj Miškov (Freedom and Solidarity (SaS)) and can be recalled by any minister. Although SaS chairman Richard Sulík has called the sale "theft" Miškov not taken any action, Sme wrote.

On October 27 Miškov reacted harshly to Dzurinda's claims that the SŠHR came under the remit of the economy ministry, stating that according to the Competencies Act, the State Material Reserves' Administration comes under the remit of the government, not the economy ministry, TASR wrote. Miškov also said that according to the Coalition Agreement, it was SDKÚ that had nominated the director of the SŠHR.

Source: TASR, SITA, Sme

Compiled by Zuzana Vilikovská from press reports
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