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Malchárek investigated

SLOVAKIA’s police are now examining the circumstances in which Jirko Malchárek, a former economy minister (November 2005-July 2006) who was nominated by the now defunct New Citizen’s Alliance (ANO) party, acquired his residence in a high-end area of Bratislava. Malchárek’s name is featured in the so-called Gorilla file, a document published on the internet that purports to include transcripts of conversations covertly recorded by Slovakia’s SIS spy agency in 2005 and 2006 between representatives of the Penta financial group and several influential Slovak public figures, including Malchárek.

SLOVAKIA’s police are now examining the circumstances in which Jirko Malchárek, a former economy minister (November 2005-July 2006) who was nominated by the now defunct New Citizen’s Alliance (ANO) party, acquired his residence in a high-end area of Bratislava. Malchárek’s name is featured in the so-called Gorilla file, a document published on the internet that purports to include transcripts of conversations covertly recorded by Slovakia’s SIS spy agency in 2005 and 2006 between representatives of the Penta financial group and several influential Slovak public figures, including Malchárek.

According to a story in the Sme daily, the criminal investigation of Malchárek is based on suspicions of abuse of power and legalisation of income from criminal activities and was started only after the Gorilla file was published. In February 2009, when Sme reported that Malchárek had moved into what it called a luxurious home, the former minister did not explain how he had paid for the house but the police at that time said there was no reason to investigate how the house was acquired.

The villa, where only Malchárek resides, is in Bratislava’s Kramáre area and was purchased in 2007, according to public records, by a firm called HM Invest, represented by Zoltán Varga, an employee of the Penta group, Sme wrote on May 7. Sme added that of HM Invest’s basic capital of Sk300 million (nearly €10 million), Malchárek had contributed only Sk5 million in capital, or less than 2 percent.

Varga is the owner of the flat on Vazovova Street in Bratislava where the alleged meetings,
documented in the Gorilla file, between Penta co-owner Jaroslav Haščák and various public figures were held and recorded. The transcripts in the Gorilla file allegedly include conversations with Anna Bubeníková, then a senior official at the National Property Fund (FNM), the country’s privatisation agency, and then economy minister Malchárek, as well as other high-ranking officials.
According to document on the internet they discussed various transactions involving the state government and Haščák allegedly tried to influence personnel decisions at the Economy Ministry.

Sme reported having possession of a document suggesting that the police suspect the land on which the house stands was fraudulently auctioned and ended up in HM Invest’s hands after what it called questionable transactions.

Sme reported that the parcel of land originally belonged to the Milosrdní Bratia Catholic order but was seized in 1950 by the government in an execution process with no further documentation recorded in Slovakia’s land registry. In 2003 a document indicates that 67-year-old Jozef Beňuška, now deceased, became the owner of the property but the notary who signed the execution document refused to talk to Sme about it. Beňuška sold the land to Miroslav Konôpka, a businessman who claims he purchased the land in a standard deal and built the villa. Several additional owners later had an interest in it before Konôpka bought it back and sold it to HM Invest in 2007.

Sme quoted police investigators as stating: “The developments suggest that during the last transaction of purchasing the house the suspect Malchárek financed the purchase of the house with money deposited to a safe deposit of a bank, which in itself is a violation of regulations pertaining to safe deposits.”

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