The president of the Supreme Court, Štefan Harabin, may face an investigation into his recent purchase of a flat after the chairman of parliament’s conflicts of interest committee, SDKÚ MP Miroslav Beblavý, submitted a proposal to that effect on Tuesday, July 24.
While the list price for a three-bedroom apartment in the housing complex in question, in Bratislava, was €168,522, Harabin paid only €94,570, equivalent to a discount of 44 percent.
"Such an unusual discount given to a constitutional official raises the question of whether it was exchanged for some type of favour," said Beblavý, as quoted by the TASR newswire, adding that the law on conflicts of interest forbids public officials from putting their private interests above public ones. If the committee okays the launch of an investigation, its outcome could be known within 60 days. If Harabin is found guilty of a conflict of interest, he could face a fine equal to one year’s salary.
Harabin reacted by attacking what he called the attempts of "director Miroslav Beblavý" to launch a probe into the purchase of the flat as “a spectacle aimed at diverting the public’s attention away from much more serious scandals linked to his political buddies”. He maintains that he and his wife bought the flat in 2006 for a set price, at a time when he didn't hold any public office. The Supreme Court chair also claimed that his savings, along with a bank loan, were used to finance the purchase and that he didn't receive any discount. "… I'm publicly asking him [Beblavý] where he got the money from to buy a villa in one of Bratislava's most up-market neighbourhoods at the age of 25," said Harabin.
The Sme daily wrote that for the probe to be launched, nine votes are needed in the committee to approve the proposal and that opposition deputies do not on their own have the necessary numbers; for it to pass, MPs from the governing Smer party will have to lend their support. However, committee vice-chair and Smer MP Otto Brixi said he is satisfied with the explanation that Harabin has provided.
Sources: TASR, Sme
Compiled by Zuzana Vilikovská from press reports
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25. Jul 2012 at 14:00