Blackmail, loans, Gorilla. Penta head Jaroslav Haščák gave a rare interview to the Aktuality.sk website, and described how Marian Kočner used to visit him to discuss his dealings.
Haščák repeatedly said that during their talks, Kočner never threatened to use physical violence against journalists.
"He would use vulgarity and say that what they write is untrue, that he would sue them and demand satisfaction," Haščák said.Threats, scandals, and dubious political ties. Who is Marian Kočner? Read more
Kočner has been known for his aggressive behaviour towards people who were in his way. He threatened Ján Kuciak, Adam Valček, and he was heard saying in public about attorney Roman Kvasnica that he "will drive a bullet through his head”.
Gorilla recordings for sale
When the police searched the house of Marian Kočner, they found the Gorilla recordings on a USB key in his safe. The Gorilla file describes the alleged meetings of Haščák with politicians in 2005-2006.
Haščák admitted that there had been several people who wanted to sell him the recording, but he denied this for Aktuality.sk. "But nobody blackmailed me," he said.
The Technopol case
Haščák said he met Kočner three times since the murder of Ján Kuciak and Martina Kušnírová. They also discussed the Technopol Servis case.
"When I learned from the media how Privatbanka was viewed in connection with Technopol, I told him it was the last thing our bank did with him," Haščák said.
The real estate owned by Technopol Servis went to the Reality Fond company, whose representative Peter Horváth is close to Kočner. The company received a €5-million-loan from Privatbanka.
This is the first direct confirmation that Kočner was involved in Technopol Servis. Kočner has denied his involvement so far.
Privatbanka was helping Kočner
Privatbanka appears in connection with the most important business deals Kočner made in the last ten years.
They loaned him money for transactions Kočner is now facing charges or investigation for, such as the transfer of hotels in Donovaly.
Haščák told Aktuality.sk that Privatbanka made a mistake in not reporting to the police one transfer to Kočner's account, when he received money from a Maltese bank.
Markíza promissory notes
Haščák confirmed that Penta had been interested in buying the Central European Media Enterprises (CME) company since 2016. CME also owns Markíza TV.
He said that Kočner contacted him in this connection and told him he possessed the promissory notes of former Markíza director Pavol Rusko, worth €70 million, allegedly to be paid by Markíza. Experts believe the notes to be fake, and Kočner and Rusko now face prosecution in the case. Haščák said he never believed Kočner that the notes were real.
There had been speculations that Kočner fabricated the promissory notes to sell to Penta so they could be used to pressure Time Warner for a lower price on CME or on Markíza. Haščák claimed this to be unfounded speculation.
"We had a deal with CME that we would pay the full price and if Markíza lost the case, they would pay us damages," Haščák said.
Peter Tóth and media help
Haščák claims that he only spoke with Peter Tóth about Gorilla and never paid him for anything. He said they met three times, once on his initiative because he wanted to know who put the Gorilla file online. Tóth and Penta manager Martin Danko reportedly exchanged messages about Kočner.
Haščák claims that during his most recent meetings with Kočner they mostly talked about Kočner's scandals. Kočner wanted him to use his influence over the Penta-owned media that wrote about him.
In early February, the Plus Jeden Deň daily wrote on its website that one of the persons charged with Kuciak's murder, Alena Zsuzsová, said Haščák ordered the murder. Penta owns the daily. They published the story after Danko warned them that Denník N was working on it.
The charges against Kočner also mention Haščák, as the one to ensure that a picture of Kočner taking banknotes from the glove compartment of his car would not make it to the public.
The investigation file also contains information that Danko sent a message to Tóth asking about the journalist Martina Ruttkayová.
Disclaimer: the Penta financial group has a minority share in Petit Press, the co-owner of The Slovak Spectator.