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First charges laid in Glance House case

THE FIRST charges have emerged in the case of a controversial real estate transfer enabled by deputy general prosecutor Dobroslav Trnka. The police have charged now former director of the Senec cadastral office, Igor Svitek, with the crime of thwarting the tasks of a public official on December 5. On the same day, Svitek lost his top job with the cadastral office for having approved the controversial transfer of the Glance House luxury residential development in Bernolákovo, a municipality near Bratislava, based on a letter sent by Trnka sidestepping an embargo by the Special Prosecutor’s Office on any dealings involving the building.

THE FIRST charges have emerged in the case of a controversial real estate transfer enabled by deputy general prosecutor Dobroslav Trnka. The police have charged now former director of the Senec cadastral office, Igor Svitek, with the crime of thwarting the tasks of a public official on December 5. On the same day, Svitek lost his top job with the cadastral office for having approved the controversial transfer of the Glance House luxury residential development in Bernolákovo, a municipality near Bratislava, based on a letter sent by Trnka sidestepping an embargo by the Special Prosecutor’s Office on any dealings involving the building.

Meanwhile, Trnka suggested that he would consider resigning only if his two main critics explain how they would have resolved the case in a way that justice is done to the damaged owners, the SITA newswire reported.

“It is publicly known that the damaged [parties] turned to Lucia Žitňanská and Daniel Lipšic with a plea for help at the time they served in ministerial positions,” Trnka told SITA, explaining why he called on the former justice minister Žitňanská and interior minister Lipšic to submit their proposals for solutions.

Trnka has not resigned despite the verdict of his boss, Ladislav Tichý, who currently heads the Office of the General Prosecutor in the absence of an officially appointed top prosecutor, that Trnka had acted unlawfully by issuing a legal opinion that materially affected the disputed ownership of Glance House. Tichý confirmed that Trnka had broken the rules but has also argued that not every breach of the law is a crime, according to the Sme daily, which broke the story about the controversial transfer.

Trnka has maintained that he has acted in line with the law driven by a sole desire: to help the damaged owners, according to SITA.

The case involves the construction and sale of Glance House which, thanks to a letter sent by Trnka to one of the conflicting sides, was reportedly transferred to Jana Šlachtová, a representative of CDI, a London-based company which has links to Marián Kočner, a controversial businessman also known to be on friendly terms with Trnka, according to Sme.

The Senec cadastral office allowed the transfer based on Trnka’s letter, which was presented to Svitek by Šlachtová, yet the police argue that Svitek should have known that Trnka did not have the authority to approve the transfer to another firm, Gapeja. Trnka used for the letter a round stamp, which based on internal regulations of the Prosecutor General’s Office, is not used in cases involving similar letters, Sme reported.

Meanwhile, on December 4, the Senec cadastral office accepted a motion filed by the General Prosecutor’s Office against the change of ownership and started proceedings to cancel the transfer of Glance House to Gapeja, according to SITA.

Trnka’s chair, however, is not shaking yet. Tichý argued that he would not sack Trnka because in the past he had cancelled similar decisions by other prosecutors, and intended to apply the same criteria to his deputy. He also said that he saw no reason to subject Trnka to a disciplinary proceeding, SITA reported.

“According to our opinion [i.e. that of the General Prosecutor’s Office], it was the cadastral office in Senec that made a mistake,” said Tichý, as quoted by the TASR newswire earlier this month.

The dispute

Behind the case is the criminal prosecution of a couple identified by the local media as RČ and AČ, which was launched on June 9, 2010. A prosecutor from the Special Prosecutor’s Office, part of the Office of the General Prosecutor that deals with corruption cases, on June 17, 2010, blocked all sales and transfers of property belonging to the Glance House corporation, including the eponymous residential building, pending a claim by CDI. Then on June 20, 2010, the prosecutor charged the couple with fraud for what she called the use of illegitimate authorisation in order to replace the co-owners and authorised representatives of the firm Glance House. CDI claims that it suffered losses of €28 million as a result of the defendants’ actions. Trnka, in his letter to one of the parties of the dispute, agreed that the property should be transferred to the damaged party, according to SITA.

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