A THOROUGHGOING investigation of claims of high-level political corruption is one of the main demands of the street rallies unleashed by the Gorilla file, named after an operation conducted by the country’s main spy agency, the SIS, between 2005 and 2006. An official investigation into the file has been underway since January: it has now gone international after the Slovak Police sought the assistance of authorities abroad to check on international financial transactions, Slovak Interior Minister Daniel Lipšic said, as quoted by the SITA newswire. He did not give any further details.
The parliamentary committee that oversees the operation of the SIS said on February 8 that the spy agency had been proceeding in line with the law since 2005, when the Gorilla operation started, until the present. Nothing now stands in the way of the police investigating the case, said committee head and former interior minister Robert Kaliňák.
However, lawyers acting for Jaroslav Haščák, the co-owner of the Penta financial group, whose name features heavily in the Gorilla file in association with conversations he is alleged to have had with senior officials and politicians from the ruling coalition and the opposition in 2005 and 2006, have requested that the Office of Special Prosecutor disregard a document that Prime Minister Iveta Radičová handed to investigators from the archives of the Government Office, according to the Sme daily. The document is of key importance, according to Lipšic, as it proves that the spy agency did actually carry out the Gorilla operation.
Haščák’s lawyer, Martin Škubla, told Sme that the document was obtained and handed over in a manner that was at odds with the law. Radičová, however, rejected this claim and through her press department said that the whole proceeding had been overseen by several lawyers and that the act of handing over the file took place strictly in line with the valid laws, SITA reported.
The SIS delivered information about the Gorilla operation in 2006 to then prime minister Mikuláš Dzurinda. Haščák’s lawyers claim that he did not need the document to fulfil his duties as prime minister and that it should therefore have been returned to the SIS as stipulated by a regulation of the National Security Office.
“Based on publicly available information, we are convinced that the Gorilla operation, if really carried out, was done in gross violation of the law and was, therefore, illegal,” read a statement released by Škubla & Partners law office and quoted by the TASR newswire.
Meanwhile, the leader of the opposition Smer party, Robert Fico, lashed out at Lipšic for what he called unprofessional communication about the Gorilla investigation, suggesting that the Christian Democratic Party (KDH) member was trying to use the situation to boost his own popularity.
Lipšic himself became the target of yet another alleged document released anonymously on the internet. It suggested that the current interior minister once cooperated with Slovakia’s military counter-intelligence service under the codename Greenhorn, SITA reported. The document also implies that Lipšic had contacts with a former agent of the Israeli intelligence agency Mossad.
Lipšic immediately responded that the document was a fraud and that he believed it was an attempt by former SIS agents to discredit him. He added that its publication was an attempt to divert attention from the investigation into the Gorilla file.
“I had expected a more sophisticated attack, not such a primitive one,” Lipšic said, adding that those who made the attempt had got some basic facts wrong. “It is weak even for a first attempt,” he commented.
Lipšic said the case might also be linked to a decision he made concerning Privatbanka, which is owned by Penta. According to Lipšic, suspicions of money laundering were raised in 2009 and 2010, when 248 unorthodox business transactions involving a total of €16.5 million were performed by the bank. The bank did not report these to police despite being legally obliged to do so, TASR reported.
“These were really unusual deposits in high figures from a rather strange set of people, associated with financial groups and the mafia,” said Lipšic.
In a statement, Privatbanka responded by saying that the financial police had carried out a routine check at the bank and, out of the 248 transactions checked, had raised objections in only five cases. Of these only one was determined to be an unusual transaction, the bank said, adding that the results of the police check did not imply that money laundering was involved.