Financial groups allegedly received money from new SPP subsidiary, says Lipšic

Evidence that changes to the Slovenský Plynárenský Priemysel (SPP) gas utility are being orchestrated by financial groups is mounting, according to Daniel Lipšic, chair of the New Majority-Agreement movement. The latest piece of evidence involves steps taken by a new SPP subsidiary called SPP Infrastructure Financing, which is reported to have borrowed €750 million since it was set up in May, supposedly for the benefit of financial groups Energetický a Průmyslový Holding (EPH) and J&T, the TASR newswire reported on September 19.

Evidence that changes to the Slovenský Plynárenský Priemysel (SPP) gas utility are being orchestrated by financial groups is mounting, according to Daniel Lipšic, chair of the New Majority-Agreement movement. The latest piece of evidence involves steps taken by a new SPP subsidiary called SPP Infrastructure Financing, which is reported to have borrowed €750 million since it was set up in May, supposedly for the benefit of financial groups Energetický a Průmyslový Holding (EPH) and J&T, the TASR newswire reported on September 19.

Czech-based EPH became the owner of a 49-percent stake in SPP, and J&T is one of the owners of EPH. Both EPH and the Economy Ministry reject Lipšic’s claims.

New SPP shareholder EPH took out loans worth €2.5 billion in order to buy the shares from Gaz de France and German E.ON Ruhrgas, and is now seeking an opportunity to pay them back by means of other loans from SPP’s subsidiaries. The government approved this on September 4 when okaying the documents on the SPP-share acquisition, but the whole process was launched even earlier, Lipšic claims.

“A garage-based firm called SPP Infrastructure Financing with basic equity of €400,000 was set up in Amsterdam in May,” Lipšic said, as quoted by TASR. “This was carried out secretly, without any explicit approval of the government, and without state nominees in the management of the company.”

All of the senior members of the subsidiary are from EPH, even though the government and EPH had agreed that they would have equal representation in all the companies that come under SPP.

Lipšic went on to point out that even though the SPP re-organisation was approved in early September, the garage-based company took out the loan two months before that via bonds worth €500 million, which was increased by another €250 million on September 11. The politician added that as security for the loan the company pledges the property of the most valuable subsidiary belonging to SPP: Eustream, which owns and operates the transit gas pipeline through Slovakia.

The fact that the address of the firm in Amsterdam corresponds with the official addresses of other companies in the J&T portfolio may give rise to other doubts, Lipšic said, as reported by TASR. According to him, the whole transaction raises the question as to whether or not the government knows where the borrowed money is now.

The Economy Ministry responded that recent statements by Lipšic demonstrate his lack of knowledge about the subject and point to an attempt to mislead the public.

“These aspects were included in the bond issuing procedure, which states clearly who draws the money and where the money is slated to end up: Eustream,” stressed Economy Ministry spokesperson Stanislav Jurikovič, as quoted by TASR, adding that there is no way SPP Infrastructure Financing legal representatives could influence such a procedure.

EPH called on Lipšic not to drag both SPP and EPH into a political fight among Slovak parties aimed at gaining influence over voters. According to the company, all the financial resources in question have been deposited in cash in bank accounts of SPP subsidiary Eustream in various Slovak banks, as reported by TASR.

Both Jurikovič and EPH said the transaction had been approved by Eustream and respective bodies from its parent company SPP.

Source: TASR

Compiled by Radka Minarechová from press reports

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