The European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF) has begun to investigate the projects of four collecting yards in eastern Slovakia due to a suspicion of excessive overcharging, the TASR newswire reported.
OLAF started to act on the initiative of the Freedom and Solidarity (SaS) party. Chair Richard Sulík explained that auditors may address not only the four questionable projects but the whole call on EU funds to the amount of €80 million.
“In such a case, Slovakia will have to pay corrections,” said Sulík, as quoted by TASR.
Five projects in four villages Jaklovce, Krásnohorské Podhradie, Drienovec and Veľký Folkmár drew millions of euros for their collecting yards as contracts were overpriced by 250 percent, according to opposition MP Lucia Ďuriš Nicholsonová (SaS).
“A group of people used its influence at the environment ministry not only under Environment Minister Peter Žiga (Smer-SD), but also his predecessor József Nagy (Most-Híd),” said Ďuriš Nicholsonová, as cited by TASR.
Ďuriš Nicholsonová added that there is also a scrap yard project in Prakovce where there might be a serious manipulation in procurement for the winning company VAMAX-X.
One of the company’s owners, Radovan Varga, is being prosecuted for commissioning murder and was also jailed for tax fraud to the sum of 200 million Slovak crowns, she said.
While opposition MPs have already pointed to the manipulation in June 2016, then minister Žiga claimed that he has never signed any contract on the allocation of subsidies for the firm VAMAX-X. He explained that all mentioned contracts can be divided into two groups and he directly signed only one contract for scrap yard with the company in 2011 and tan appendix for the contract about right of lien in 2013.
The ministry withdrew the contract due to non-fulfilment of terms in 2015, TASR wrote.
A second set of contracts include those signed in accordance with decisions made in 2011 and 2012 on allocation of grants to municipalities, not directly to the company, Žiga said.
“At the time of signature, municipalities did not have public procurements for the purpose of use,” said Žiga, as quoted by TASR, adding that the ministry had to sign the contracts on the basis of an existing decision.
Current ministry representatives confirmed that if authorities active in criminal proceedings appeal to them with the projects, they will provide full interoperability, TASR reported.
20. Oct 2016 at 23:27 | Compiled by Spectator staff