Matovič accused PM Fico of attacking regionPRESS, having secret accounts

ORDINARY People and Independent Personalities (OĽaNO) chairman Igor Matovič, on August 14, denied that his family's publishing house regionPRESS has been involved in tax evasion, striking back and accusing Prime Minister Robert Fico. 

Igor Matovič,OĽaNO, accusing PM FicoIgor Matovič,OĽaNO, accusing PM Fico (Source: TASR)

The claim had been suggested by a report on the news-only channel TA3 which reported that a police raid on regionPRESS headquarters in Trnava on August 12 was not related to the scandal concerning an audio recording of a conversation between Matovič and Siet chairman Radoslav Procházka, in which the latter was alleged to have shown interest in under-the-counter political adds in regionPRESS newspapers. According to TA3, regionPRESS instead has been accused of having provided fictitious discounts of up to 90 percent for various political entities between 2011 and 2014.

Matovič described the claim as “sheer nonsense”, adding that regionPRESS provides such high discounts only to the opposition OĽaNO party. He called on the National Crime Agency (NAKA) to publish all of regionPRESS' accounting on the internet.

Read also:UPDATED: NAKA carries out raid on Matovič publishing house Read more 

The Sme daily reported on August 14 that the elite police body has been dealing with regionPRESS since June based on an anonymous criminal complaint concerning tax evasion. Matovič claimed that NAKA launched the investigation without first checking whether the anonymous complaint contained true information.

He also linked the police raid to Prime Minister Robert Fico. One hour before the press conference, Matovič wrote on a social network that “a man presenting himself as the prime minister along with his wife set up a shell company in Belize in 2008. This company set up two bank accounts at Belize Bank International (BBIL) on the day when the company was established. The accounts contained 674,546,004.42 USD on July 21, 2015,” wrote Matovič as quoted by the TASR newswire, adding that the information came from an anonymous letter that was posted to him some time ago.

“I’m asking Robert Fico how he feels now after anonymous information has been released accusing him of having money in his account that an ordinary mortal couldn’t earn even in 5,000 years,” Matovič wrote. “So, that's how I feel now. The goal of this is to make it appear that Matovič isn’t clean, that he hasn’t paid taxes, and that’s why NAKA is investigating him,” said Matovič, adding that regionPRESS has always been honest when it comes to taxes and deductions and has paid €20 million to the state since it was set up in 1997.

At a press briefing on August 14, Fico announced that he and his wife Svetlana will file a criminal complaint over a false accusation concerning Matovič’s claim. Fico’s wife Svetlana was also present at the briefing in front of the Government Office. She appears publicly at Fico’s side rarely, in the past almost exclusively when voting in elections.

“Politics can't be done in this way,” Fico said, according to TASR. “Everything that Matovic said was made up, and it provides a basis for suspicions of the crime of false accusation, and I believe that the law-enforcement authorities will act duly. These are incredible figures and incredible destinations. It’s something that Matovic did only because he himself has a problem, and he needs to divert the attention of the media and the public away from his own problems.” The premier added that if Matovič is not able to provide evidence for at least “one thousandth” of what he claimed, he should leave politics.

Matovič said later in the day that he is positive that he can prove the majority of his claims. He went on to indicate that the evidence to back up his allegations will be unveiled for the public in early September. “They’re documents that exhibit significant hallmarks of being authentic,” said Matovič who is confident that he can furnish evidence for “at least 99 percent of my claims”.

Speaking outside the Government Office, Matovič reiterated that he had received two anonymous pieces of information. The first source concerned an account opened at a bank in Belize, with the second detailing skulduggeries in state tenders and the redirecting of state funds to the same bank account. The documents list specific tenders, which Matovič said he is now seeking to look into.

Matovič went on to point to other, albeit unnamed high-ranking officials from the ruling Smer party. “The case I’ll shed information on by early September at the latest could only have involved high-ranking people in executive power; that is, people from Smer,” he said.

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