At the end of June, the police launched a criminal investigation over suspicions of blackmail against the Sme daily’s reporter Adam Valček who was allegedly threatened by Marián Kočner, a controversial entrepreneur who is already facing prosecution for counterfeiting promissory notes.
“I can confirm that as of June 28, an investigator of the National Criminal Agency (NAKA) initiated a criminal investigation into suspicions of blackmail” Police Corps Presidium spokesman Michal Slivka told the TASR newswire on July 10. “Due to pending processes, it isn't possible to provide more detailed information at this stage.”
On June 1, the police announced that NAKA was investigating threats made against Valček by Kočner.
Strange methods of communication
Earlier this year, Sme reported that Kočner was attempting to intimidate its investigative reporter Valček, who – along with the Trend magazine’s journalist Zuzana Petková – was collaborating on a news story about the Technopol scandal in which Kočner supposedly acquired half a million euros. The shady businessman also made threats to murdered journalist Ján Kuciak regarding the same case.
Instead of answering Valček’s questions, the controversial entrepreneur suspected of VAT tax fraud sent back questions concerning the personal life of Valček for what he claimed was his upcoming website about journalists. Many of the questions were health and family-related, and the information could not have been acquired from open sources, Sme stressed.
By his actions, Kočner intimated his efforts to collect private health and family-related information about the reporter and threatened to publish them, which can be viewed as an attempt at intimidation, Sme's editor-in-chief Beáta Balogová said. “This constitutes an attack on the freedom of the press,” she declared.
Sins past and current
Last year, Kuciak wrote that the property of the Bratislava-based company Technopol worth €20 million ended up in the hands of people close to Kočner under dubious circumstances.
Sme and Trend reported that shortly after its hostile takeover, Technopol paid half a million euros into Kočner’s private account. The case is being investigated by the police. In his response, Kočner told Pravda daily that linking his name to Technopol is nothing but “schizophrenic fabrication.”
10. Jul 2018 at 23:23 | Compiled by Spectator staff