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Student Loan Fund members paid themselves hundreds of thousands of euros

Head of the Student Loan Fund Ľubomír Zburín has been sacked over suspicions of mismanagement, the Sme daily wrote in its Wednesday, November 2, issue.

Head of the Student Loan Fund Ľubomír Zburín has been sacked over suspicions of mismanagement, the Sme daily wrote in its Wednesday, November 2, issue.

Since 2005, 18 former members of the fund’s councils have been paid a total of more than €235,000 despite their positions being technically unpaid, Sme reported. The councils were established to oversee the work of the fund and the allocation of loans, and some of their members already work at the Education Ministry. The bonuses and payments varied every year; in 2010 such payments amounted to €7,000 per person on average.

Officially, the money should have been paid for the completion of 57 reports. Yet an audit revealed that 12 of the reports, on which €10,000 was spent, had never been submitted. The head of the council of one of the funds, Peter Goliaš of the INEKO economic think tank, said that in some cases, remuneration amounted to €3,000 per page.

The flaws were found after Education Minister Eugen Jurzyca installed two of nominees to the funds, one of whom was head of Transparency International Slovensko (TIS) Gabriel Šípoš. Šípoš said that the heads and members of the councils had agreed to reward each other with various bonuses, thus undermining their supervisory role.

Zburín issued a statement through the SITA newswire saying that he had not agreed to the bonuses, but he later refused to answer further questions. Jurzyca said the ministry would first examine the audit's results and then comment. Head of parliament’s education committee Dušan Čaplovič (Smer) said he opposed the dismissal of Zburín, claiming the scandal was just an attempt to control the fund. The fund provides loans to students on favourable terms.

Sources: Sme, SITA

Compiled by Zuzana Vilikovská from press reports
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