When announcing the victory in the legal dispute with the Italian company Enel this July, the Economy Minister Peter Žiga (of the ruling Smer party) said that the state would pay nothing. Now he says that the sum due to the lawyer who was representing the state is inappropriate.
He responded to a Plus 7 dní daily story reporting that the state is to pay a reward of some €64 million to lawyer Radomir Bžán for his services in this dispute.
In 2015, the Italian firm, Enel, initiated a legal dispute after Robert Fico’s government cancelled a rental contract for the Gabčíkovo hydropower plant, demanding compensation of up to €700 million. Radomír Bžán was the legal counsellor who represented Slovakia in the international arbitration case. Bžán asked for around 10 percent of the total sum the state saved in a successful legal dispute with Enel.
Negotiations over cutting the bill
“The contract was signed in 2015 when I held a completely different position,” Žiga said, as quoted by the Sme daily. “At the same time, I don’t think that any money has been paid in this regard. I’ve called on the management of [the state-run joint-stock company] MH Manažment – a successor organisation to the National Property Fund (FNM), which administers state property – to hold talks with the law firm in question on reducing the remuneration,” said Žiga after a cabinet session.
At that time, Žiga was the environment minister, not the economy minister.
In July, Prime Minister Robert Fico said that Žiga alone was responsible for overseeing the whole process of annulling the contract.
Currently, the state is negotiating a possible reduction of the reward.
Connections with Smer
Bžán does have contacts with Smer. In the past, the Plus 7 Dní weekly brought a picture that captured him in a joyful mood with ex-finance minister Ján Počiatek.
He also visited the birthday party of former deputy parliamentary speaker Renáta Zmajkovičová of Smer.
Pavol Bžán, who is the son of Radomir Bžán, was employed at the Finance Ministry in 2012 when it was run by Ján Počiatek of Smer. Pavol Bžán is now director of the office which oversees eurofunds at the ministry.