No offense to Igor Matovič, whose return of serve against Prime Minister Robert Fico yesterday was at least entertainingly cheeky. But while his press conference answered the most important question concerning the sale of his regionPress company in 2008 – whether he paid tax on the money he took from it – it did little to refute the damning testimony of Pavel Vandák, that Matovič tricked him into buying the firm as part of an undisclosed tax scam.
We don’t know, for example, why Matovič chose to store such important documents as the regionPress company’s accounts in the back of a car parked on his granny’s property in the village of Borová. We don’t know why, according to Matovič, Vandák should have been responsible for the missing accounts for the years 2004, 2006 and 2007, when he didn’t “buy” the company until 2008. We don’t know why Vandák appears to have been paid for taking over regionPress (one million crowns was left on account, as well as 15 million crowns in claims), or why Matovič was so (temporarily) anxious to divest himself of a company that had €4 million in cash at the time of its transfer. We don’t know why the humble Vandák was selected as the new owner, given that he demonstrated zero business acumen and little intellectual curiosity during his police interview. And of course we don’t know why regionPress was allegedly transferred back to the Matovič family after only two months of Vandák’s stewardship – but in this we’re not alone: Matovič said he doesn’t remember either.
Matovič’s cocksure response to Fico – take a lie-detector test with me, and I’ll pay you €4 million – may be enough to reassure his voters, but for the majority of the electorate it will probably confirm their long-held beliefs that politics in general is a filthy business, and that Igor Matovič in particular is well past his best-before date.
Fico, of course, doesn’t come out of this looking any nobler, with his unapologetic use of confidential police documents and weekend witness interviews to torpedo a political opponent just in time for elections. But he’s hardly the first to withhold important information until it suits him – four years ago we had Gorilla to digest only weeks before elections, while in 2010 it was the SDKÚ’s secret Swiss financing and the voice similar to Fico’s.
Indeed, while the prime minister has less moral right than most of this country’s citizens to point fingers, it’s a little disappointing to see Fico faulted for his cynical sense of timing. One senses that if it had been Matovič making the allegations, and Fico having to present the thin evidence of his probity, most of us wouldn’t have objected.
11. Feb 2016 at 14:29 | Tom Nicholson