Matovič asks Fico to have polygraph test

LEADER of the opposition Ordinary People and Independent Personalities (OĽaNO-NOVA) party Igor Matovič has called on Prime Minister Robert Fico to undergo a polygraph test with him.

Matovič shows his accountancy documents.Matovič shows his accountancy documents. (Source: Sme)

At a press conference on February 10, Matovič said that if Fico finds the courage to take the test, he will give him the 121 million Slovak crowns (about €4 million) that Fico claims the opposition politician embezzled from his own company.

Matovič promised to answer any of the PM’s questions and said that he would take the opportunity to ask him questions as well. He also stated that the sale of a company called “Igor Matovič-regionPRESS” in 2008 was properly taxed at more than 15 million Slovak crowns. He produced a copy of his tax return to confirm this.

The OĽaNO leader said, as quoted by the TASR newswire, that he was filing a criminal complaint against Pavol Vandák, to whom he sold the company, in response to false allegations.

Matovič denied that he had embezzled money from his own company and commented on the accusation that he sent the money to his own account. “Fico apparently doesn’t know that it’s logical to sell one’s firm and transfer the money to one’s own account,” he told media. “To legally sell one’s property without debts, to pay tax on one's income, is this embezzlement? Fico has been using the word "embezzlement" for eight years now. Embezzlement means stealing from the state at the public’s expense, overpriced purchases, not the sale of one’s own company and subsequent taxation of income. Robert Fico is unable to earn money legally, so he makes a fraud out of everything legal.”

Matovič denied that Vandák was actually a so-called white horse (a straw-man), saying that Vandák performed a service related to the exaction of receivables. “I also deny that I destroyed account books,” he added. I handed the complete documentation to Vandák.” Vandák allegedly took over all of the documentation. “After about three days, when Vandák said that he didn’t have the room to store them I took the accounts for 1997-2001,” Matovič claimed. “There was no obligation to preserve this data, and the documentation for 2003 and 2005-08 were kept in a Mercedes Vito van. I stored the accounts properly, and for several years this vehicle was parked at my grandmother’s house in the village of Borová [Trnava region]. Everyone who visited that house over those years was a witness. I still have the accounts at my grandmother’s house,” he said, asking whether someone would keep accounts in a public place if he wanted to commit fraud. The remaining two years, 2002 and 2004, were taken care of by Vandák, he said.     

Matovič described Vandák’s testimony to the police over the weekend as a fairytale. “Smer has overdone this,” said, as cited by TASR. “If there were fewer details in the testimony, it would be more realistic and more credible. Its richness confirms to me that it was created on Súmračná Street [the location of Smer headquarters]. What is more, Vandák contradicts himself in the testimony. In one section he says that he had no idea about the company’s receivables. Seven lines below, it is written that he did have knowledge of the receivables. Such is the plausibility of the whole testimony, so I’m filing a criminal complaint.”

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Vandák’s claim that Matovič promised him a lifetime monthly payment of €1,500 for his cooperation was also refuted. “I think that he will have such money after this testimony, but not from me, and it will be higher,” the latter said. “If someone had promised him €1,500 a month, wouldn’t he have missed eight years of this money? Over eight years, it amounts to four million Slovak crowns [around €144,000]. And he remembers only now that someone promised him that?” the opposition politician asked.

The police have confirmed that they are looking into information that Fico published about Matovič’s business.

At a briefing on February 5, Fico claimed that Matovič is a tax fraudster who uses white horses to cover up his illegal activities. In order to dodge a tax audit, he transferred Igor Matovič-regionPRESS to a white horse, destroyed the accounts for the entire history of the company and laundered the €121 million, according to Fico who also said that Vandák worked for Matovič as a contractor and that Matovic opted out of the contract two months after the transfer of the company.

The PM said on February 10 that he would not react to Matovič's challenge to join him at the polygraph, calling his proposal a circus act, adding that evidence speaks for itself and that it is now up to the criminal prosecution bodies to assess the potential crime.

Fico investigates things that are absolutely outside of the competences of this office, said leader of extra-parliamentary opposition party Sieť, Radoslav Procházka, in response to the dispute, TASR wrote. Procházka continued, that instead of patiently and dynamically disclosing cases of huge economic criminality and political corruption – as promised before his first election victory in 2006; or instead of looking at looting in health care, at stagnating education system and bullying of those wanting to change things, the premier instead engages personally in an issue which would, in a functional country, come under the remit of the Financial Administration or criminal prosecution bodies.

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