The National Criminal Agency (NAKA) detained Jaroslav Haščák, partner of the Penta financial group, on December 1. The agency did so shortly after an interrogation, to which he was brought in for on December 1, the Sme daily reported.
Haščák has been charged with corruption and money laundering linked to the Gorilla case, the Aktuality.sk news website reported.
At the same time, dozens of police officers raided the headquarters of Penta in the Digital Park building in Bratislava, armed with submachine guns. Employees were required to leave the building, according to the media reports.
“We don’t understand why it was necessary to enter the building this way,” said Martin Danko, spokesperson of Penta. The raid is linked to the Gorilla corruption case, but there is no reason for it as Penta has been cooperating with police in this case, he added.
The police transported Haščák to Penta’s building around 17:00. He did not in handcuffs, but was escorted by police officers.
Journalists were asked to leave the premises by the private security service before Haščák’s arrival.
Following his detention, Haščák has renounced his managing powers in Penta. He still remains the group's co-owner.
Detained SIS members
Haščák was accused only several days after former members of the Slovak Information Service (SIS) intelligence agency, Ľubomír Arpáš and František Polák, were taken to custody. They have been charged with blackmailing, money laundering and bribing.
The Gorilla file, leaked online in late 2011, also contained a commentary describing the situation in the SIS.
It claims that Arpáš sold the Gorilla recordings to Penta in 2007 for more than €130,000. Polák is mentioned in a conversation between police officer Ján Rejda and Zoltán Varga, the owner of the wiretapped flat.
Several politicians have commented on Haščák’s detention.
“The mafia is only as strong as the state is weak,” PM Igor Matovič (OĽaNO) wrote on Facebook.
Deputy Speaker of Parliament Juraj Šeliga hopes that we will finally learn the truth about drinking Coca-Cola, referring to the note in the Gorilla file, according to which Smer chair Robert Fico was drinking Coke while meeting Haščák in the wiretapped flat on Vazovova Street.
His party’s chair and Investments Minister Veronika Remišová has pointed to the connections between Haščák, the Penta group, the Gorilla file and murky businesses with the state.
“We’ve been used to the police and prosecution playing deaf and blind institutions, which often said that ‘the deed did not happen’ when it came to ‘big fish,’” she commented, adding that people decided to stop these practices in the elections.
MEP Michal Šimečka of Progressive Slovakia said that though he is critical of the government, he has to praise the law enforcement bodies being free to act.
“What we’ve been seeing in Slovakia the past few weeks is also unique at the European level,” he commented.
The Gorilla case
Documents labelled Gorilla and Gorilla 1, which appeared online in December 2011, resemble secret service records. These documents describe the outcome of the tracking put on Jaroslav Haščák, head of the Penta financial group, which took place in 2005 and 2006.
Peter Holúbek, a Slovak Intelligence Service (SIS) agent with the code name Mravec (Ant), noticed that government limousines and cars belonging to Penta representatives were parking in front of an apartment block on Vazovova Street in Bratislava. In November 2005, the SIS requested a wiretap on a flat which was in the possession of businessman Zoltán Varga. As of January of 2006, the meetings held in the flat, which several politicians attended, were intercepted.
The file captures talks between top politicians with Haščák about commissions and corruption during their meetings in the flat at Vazovova Street over the second term of Mikuláš Dzurinda's government (SDKÚ).
It also contains information on the financing of Slovakia's major political parties of the time: the Slovak Democratic and Christian Union (SDKÚ), Smer, the Christian Democratic Movement (KDH) and the Party of the Hungarian Minority (SMK), but also about money intended for ex-economy minister Jirko Malchárek of the now non-existent party New Citizen's Alliance (ANO) that was then headed by Pavol Rusko.
After the leakage of Gorilla, the SIS did not admit ownership of the file. Penta has been denying the authenticity of the file since the scandal surfaced. However, the regional court in Bratislava confirmed that it had complied with the request for interception put forward by the SIS, on November 21, 2005. The court did not say what goals were to have been met by the wiretap.
The scandal sparked a great response and has become one of the biggest corruption scandals ever. In January and March of 2012, an entire series of Gorilla protests took place around Slovakia, with thousands of people gathering on the streets.
A special team was created to investigate the Gorilla file, which immediately asked for the removal of the secrecy covering former SIS head Karol Mitrík. Former president Ivan Gašparovič upheld this and the investigation began.
Despite the great response within society and the promises of politicians and the police to pay more attention to the Gorilla investigation, there has been no one convicted in this case. No conclusions have been reached by the courts, either.
Former SIS counterintelligence chief Ľubomír Arpáš is the only person to be prosecuted in Gorilla for selling the recordings from the flat on Vazovova Street to Penta.
The police later found the Gorilla recording in 2019 when searching the premises of Marian Kočner, who faces several charges, including forging promissory notes and ordering the murder of journalist Ján Kuciak.
Disclaimer: The Penta financial group has a minority share in Petit Press, the publisher of the Sme daily and the co-owner of The Slovak Spectator.