The construction company, Váhostav, received a fine from the Public Procurement Office (ÚVO) for incorrect data in the register of real owners of firms, the Sme daily reported.
When Váhostav entered the data into the register on November 19, 2015, it did not specify the names of its real owners. Instead, it registered three members of the board of directors of its parental company. The law enables such a move if nobody owns more than 25-percent stock in the company or the real owner cannot be identified. ÚVO however fined Váhostav for incorrect data in the register at the beginning of this year.
With its decision, the ÚVO sent a signal that it does not accept a situation where real owners are hidden behind shell companies, Sme reported.
The decision, however, is not yet valid, so it is not clear how much the company will have to pay. The law stipulates that the sanction may amount to between €10,000 to €1 million, according to the daily.
Sme learned about the fine from an anonymous email received by several media outlets. It was also confirmed by ÚVO spokesperson Ján Mažgút.
The company has however objected to the fine.
“It is startling that information about the fine from an institution like the ÚVO, which has not been published anywhere else, has been received by journalists sooner than the participants in the proceeding,” said Váhostav’s spokesperson Tomáš Halán, as quoted by Sme.
The company has not received any notification about the fine yet. It will specify its further steps after notification.
Široký admits ownership
The register now says that Váhostav belongs to tycoon Juraj Široký, an alleged sponsor of the Smer party, who controls it in other ways than by ownership. His inscription in the register however is surrounded by several ambiguities, Sme reported.
The register claims that the information about the owner was last updated on November 19, 2015, i.e. on the same day Váhostav was registered for the first time. The original report about registration obtained by Sme, however, does not contain Široký’s name. It is not clear when and how the information was changed.
The construction company has not said whether it asked for changes itself but its official statement indicates that Široký only recently became the owner. The law stipulates that such a change needs to be reported to the ÚVO.
“At the time, Mr Široký issued the statement [that he does not own Váhostav – ed. note] it was true; he obtained influence in Váhostav only later,” Halán said, as quoted by Sme.
The company subsequently asked for a change in the register, the daily wrote.
Široký has not confirmed his ownership of Váhostav in the past, though both he and his son Juraj are members of the company’s bodies. The tycoon also denied owning the construction company in court, last April.
“I am not the owner of Váhostav and I have never been; it is still a publicly known company,” Široký said at the time, as quoted by Sme.
Váhostav’s ownership structure however still remains unclear, Sme wrote.