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Lipšic accuses Penta of dodging taxes in merger of health insurers

Independent MP and former interior minister Daniel Lipšic is urging that a tax probe be conducted into Penta financial group on suspicion that the group failed to pay taxes arising from the merger of health insurers Dôvera and Apollo several years ago, the TASR newswire reported on Thursday, February 7.

Independent MP and former interior minister Daniel Lipšic is urging that a tax probe be conducted into Penta financial group on suspicion that the group failed to pay taxes arising from the merger of health insurers Dôvera and Apollo several years ago, the TASR newswire reported on Thursday, February 7.

Speaking in parliament, Lipšic also said that he would submit a motion to investigate the matter to the Bratislava Tax Office, the Financial Directorate and the Audit Supervisory Authority (ÚDVA). During the merger of Dôvera and Apollo during the first government of Robert Fico, Penta earned around €500 million on which it didn't pay any taxes, Lipšic alleged. The merger was effective as of January 2010, thereby taking place during Prime Minister Robert Fico's first term in power. Penta is the sole owner of the merged entity, named Dôvera. Lipšic also alleged that tax collection deteriorates considerably whenever Fico is in power.

"He who drinks coke with Fico doesn't have to pay taxes," said Lipšic, alluding to the infamous Gorilla transcripts, according to which Fico met in a 'safe house' with Penta co-owner Jaroslav Haščák and drank Coca-Cola during their talks. Lipšic went on to recommend prison time for all those who commit financial and tax fraud and engage in corruption. He also warned all those to whom this applies that "the statute of limitation in tax and other kinds of fraud of such magnitude is 20 years, while the next election is due to take place in only three years".

Penta is meeting its tax obligations properly and has paid €70 million in taxes to the Slovak state budget over the past five years, Penta spokesman Martin Danko said. Danko stated that the merger of the two health insurers took place via a sale, and that the entire transaction was in line with the law. "The transaction was approved by the Health-Care Supervisory Authority and the Anti-Monopoly Office," he said, as quoted by TASR.

The Sme daily reported on February 8 that Penta has official correspondence from late 2009 and early 2010 with Peter Kažimír, the current finance minister, who at the time was state secretary (i.e. deputy finance minister), assuring the group that it would not have to pay taxes on the transaction.

Source: TASR, Sme

Compiled by Zuzana Vilikovská from press reports
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