Filip Rybanič, a former Tatra Banka employee, was punished for looking into the bank account of ex-interior minister Robert Kaliňák (Smer) in 2016.
He was sentenced to a three-year suspended sentence with a one-year probation period, the Bratislava Regional Court ruled. Rybanič also has to prepare a 30-page analysis about what the essence of a bank secret is, the Sme daily reported.
He is banned from working in fields that involve bank secrets.
This ruling cancelled out the previous ruling issued by the Bratislava V District Court last September, according to which Rybanič was found guilty of violating bank secrets and was sentenced to three years in prison with a five-year probation period. He was also told to apologise to Kaliňák publicly.
The senior ruling party Smer still wants Rybanič to apologise. In its reaction to the ruling, the party also claimed that Rybanič was actually working for Jozef Rajtár, MP for Freedom and Solidarity (SaS), when he committed the crime.
Judge critical of the police
Although judge Peter Šramko underlined that Rybanič committed the crime, taking into consideration the evidence, including smartphone pictures, he also criticised the work of police.
The police questioned Rybanič immediately after his arrest and made him confess to the crime. Therefore, this testimony was excluded from the evidence, Šramko said.
“He said my testimony, which I gave at 23:00, was unlawful,” Rybanič said, as quoted by Sme. “We have waited for this for so long.”
Rybanič's actions revealed the links between Kaliňák and businessman Ladislav Bašternák, who was found guilty of tax fraud. The media reported that company B. A. Haus, owned by Bašternák, sent €260,000 to Kaliňák. The suspected transaction was not reported by the bank, though.
Not a whistleblower
Rybanič currently works as Rajtár's MP assistant. Rajtár thinks that Rybanič is a whistleblower and should not be punished.
Šramko said that Rybanič is not a whistleblower when the Slovak and EU legislation is applied.
“The reporting of any illegal activity is, by definition, linked to the activities of an employer of a given whistleblower,” Šramko explained, as quoted by Sme.
However, Rybanič misused the bank data of a politician and violated the rules of his former employer, he added.
“An employee or whistleblower does not choose or seek the method by which they find some data to prove the illegal activity,” Šramko underlined, as quoted by Sme.
The court also said Rybanič should have talked to his employer about the transaction first, not the media.
25. Jun 2019 at 22:32 | Compiled by Spectator staff