AN INSPECTION at Privatbanka, which is owned by the Penta financial group, has revealed serious suspicions of unusual transactions which could cost the bank its licence, outgoing Interior Minister Daniel Lipšic told a press conference on April 3, his last day in office. He added that the Financial Police had found two failures by the bank to report money transfers worth around €7 million in total, the TASR newswire reported.
Lipšic also claimed that the Office of the Prosecutor General became unusually active when Privatbanka filed a criminal complaint on March 27 over suspicions of malfeasance.
“In a way that I have never seen before, they started urging the Office for the Fight Against Organised Crime to immediately provide all documents and all copies of inspections concerning Privatbanka,” said Lipšic, as quoted by TASR, adding that this "reeks of something".
“I don’t know whether the aim was to deter the auditors and the Financial Police or to help those who are suspected of laundering money,” Lipšic stated, as quoted by TASR, adding that the action was non-standard because the Office of the General Prosecutor usually only takes action after a week or more, not the next day.
The first of the two allegedly suspect operations at Privatbanka involved the transfer of €3 million from abroad to the account of a private individual. The money was paid for an alleged security trade carried out in a tax haven. The other case concerned a transaction of €4 million, which was paid by the tax office in Bratislava and deviated from the nature and extent of the business activities of a particular Privatbanka client, Lipšic said.
The Sme daily reported that the first case could relate to a transfer carried out by businessman Marián Kočner, who sent an amount from a bank account in Malta. Kočner claims that the transfer was made after he sold shares in the company Inkasný Servis to a company in Belize through a mediating firm located in Cyprus.
“If I sell my little finger to someone for €10 million, or for 10 kilos of gold, that is my business,” he said, as quoted by Sme, adding that all sales done by his companies are properly taxed.