The Slovak police have accused Igor Štefanov, the former minister of construction and regional development, a nominee of the Slovak National Party (SNS), with the crime of manipulating public procurement, the Sme daily wrote on its website on May 31. The number of persons accused in the so-called “bulletin-board tender” that occurred in 2008 rose from four to five, said an investigator from the police’s Office for the Fight against Corruption.
Sme wrote that the Construction and Regional Development Ministry announced a tender in 2008 for the supply of various legal and advertising services that would be co-financed by EU funds but that the tender announcement was made solely on a bulletin board located within the ministry building in an area not normally accessible to the general public.
Later the ministry sent the announcement to only three companies, two of which offered their bid as a consortium. The ministry signed an agreement with the consortium of two companies, Zamedia and Avocat, and paid it for certain services. It later was reported that the two companies allegedly had links to SNS leader Ján Slota and that the consortium's bid was overly expensive. Štefanov was serving as a senior official at the Construction and Regional Development Ministry when the tender was announced and later was appointed minister after his party colleague Marian Janušek was sacked, Sme wrote. If Štefanov is convicted of this crime he faces seven to 12 years in prison.
SNS spokesperson Jana Benková told Sme that any past SNS nominees involved with the bulletin-board tender are willing to explain facts and help investigators but she refused to comment further due to the ongoing investigation.
Štefanov and the other four accused persons under investigation are not in custody, said the spokesperson of the Police Presidium, Denisa Baloghová, to the SITA newswire. In March 2011, four people identified only as Marián J., Radoslav B., Tomáš L. and Zdenka K. were charged with the same crime now facing Štefanov and could serve seven to 12 years in prison if convicted, or up to 20 years for Marián J. who was also accused of violating his obligations when administering others’ property and abuse of the powers of a public official.
Source: Sme, SITA
Compiled by Zuzana Vilikovská from press reports
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