Die Slowakische Republik : Der Korruptions-Weltmeister
Do you still remember ? Wenn Du denkst, es geht nichts mehr, kommt neue slowakische Korruption daher!
Und der korrupte Bergamt-Boss Kukelcik lacht sich mit dem Wopfinger Robert Schmid einen. Jedoch nicht mehr lange!
“Cotton-wool” for 17 million euros. Under Kaliňák and Saková, a criminal group was supposed to operate in the Interior Ministry
At the highest level of management of the criminal group there were supposed to be people from the management functions of the Ministry of the Interior. NAKA does not name them.
They were supposed to meet at petrol stations, where they allegedly arranged how to involve companies and white horses in million-dollar state businesses to extract money for fictitious goods and services
Thursday’s police raid initially looked interesting, especially as they searched the house of the witness of the big scandal, Peter Petrov alias Tiger, who has since been accused of tampering and perjury by the Interior Ministry inspectorate. The police later admitted that they had detained as many as 9 and charged 11 people – the case may be heading very high.
The heads of the group – officials of the ministry
According to NAKA investigators, a criminal group was supposed to have operated under the former government, extracting millions of euros from projects in the Ministry of the Interior and the Labour Headquarters. This is the period when the Interior Ministry was headed by Smer-SD nominees Robert Kaliňák and Denisa Saková, while the Labour Office was managed by its current head Marian Valentovič during the controversial project from 2015.
The police have not yet named the heads of the criminal group, only describing them as people who have not yet been precisely identified and who were senior officials of the Ministry of the Interior and the Labour Headquarters. „… who, abusing their managerial position and status, influenced the course of public procurements in an as yet unidentified manner,“ the charging resolution reads.
Saková: I am shocked
The editorial board contacted former ministers of the interior. Saková responded in a statement on Friday that she was shocked by the information about the criminal group. The reason for this is that the group is believed to include businessman Peter Petrov, who successfully evaded police inspection for weeks and who had a warrant issued for his arrest. He is also accused of inciting a witness to perjure himself in another case.
„I stress that I do not know and have never met anyone who has been publicised as an accused, and I have not signed any contracts or documents that would imply financial payments to these companies. Nor have I ever accepted any financial or non-financial benefits from these people or companies,“ wrote former Interior Minister Denisa Saková (HLAS – Social Democracy).
In response to the police findings, Robert Kaliňák denied knowing any of the accused. „It doesn’t tell me anything,“ he said in response to the accused men Peter Lamač, Cucor, Kozar or Jakúbek from the second level of the criminal group hierarchy.
„I don’t know of any criminal group with links to the leadership of the ministry. There was no indication of it either. The prices of the projects were tendered out, so what kind of increase are you talking about? These were normal contractor prices, comparable to what you have published on the internet,“ Kaliňák asks, pointing out that the questioned projects were contracted with reputable companies, in one case even a Polish company.
„Whether there were subsequently any subcontracts, I have no way of knowing,“ the ex-minister responds, adding that he does not know who exactly the police might be referring to when they refer to the first level of the hierarchy of the criminal group as people from the ministry.
Entrepreneurs and white horses
The investigator has already charged persons who he believes were at the second and third level of the criminal group’s management. He attributes the eleven men with setting up and supporting the criminal group, as well as money laundering. These are serious crimes, which carry up to 20 years in prison.
According to the investigation so far, what were the activities of the group supposed to consist of? In the Ministry of the Interior and in one case also at the labour headquarters, they were supposed to prepare projects for the supply of technical equipment – that is, for example, the purchase of computers, servers, software, bracelets, kits for firefighters or automotive syringes.
Cotton wool worth millions of euros
The procurement was to be won by a company related to people from the highest level of the criminal group. According to the police, the price of the project was not realistic, but inflated so that the rest of the money, the so-called cotton wool, could be siphoned off from the system through other companies. According to our calculations, in one project they inflated the price by up to 40 percent, which in a particular case meant 4.8 million euros.
And this is where the second and third floors of the accused criminal group were to come in. While the first tier of the criminal group is only described and hinted at by the police, in the second tier they have accused a specific four men. They were supposed to be liaisons to officials of the department and the headquarters. The police identified businessmen Peter Lamač, Igor Cúcor, Rastislav Jakubek and Marian Kozar as key persons who were supposed to have direct contact and influence on state officials.
According to Aktuality.sk, the third floor in the hierarchy was to be represented by the aforementioned businessman Peter Petrov, from Levice, and his assistants – fictitious suppliers. The police placed six other men at this level. They had a number of companies written on their names. Their task was to manage the company bank accounts and pretend that their company was a kind of subcontractor for the winning companies from the projects of the Ministry of the Interior or the headquarters. They created fictitious invoices and pretended that they were also helping to supply goods to a government project.
The police have charged all seven men from the lowest level of the criminal group. After the money for the fictitious invoices arrived in their company bank accounts, the funds flowed through other private company accounts that were registered to other white horse persons. At the end of the chain, huge transactions in the hundreds of thousands or millions were to be gradually pulled out by the men and handed over to Peter Petrov.
The Chinese and the millions in the cache
In three specific projects, police mention that the accused men raised money in cash from the Chinese. It was about the Chinese washing machine that Aktuality.sk recently brought extensive revelations – we described the mechanism of laundering and obtaining money in the cache for bribes.
Petrov could always keep five percent of this „cotton wool“ and then share it with his associates. The remaining 95 percent, according to his own words, he took and handed over in the cache, mostly in Bratislava, to one of the men in the second tier of the criminal group hierarchy.
Firefighting equipment and uniforms
According to investigators, the group was able to manipulate several lucrative state contracts. Most of the „cotton wool“ should have been in the purchase of special firefighting equipment in the Ministry of the Interior between 2018 and 2020. The price of the contract amounted to almost 42 million euros, while the defendants were supposed to artificially inflate it by about 9 million euros through a chain of related subcontracting companies. The aforementioned millions were then gradually withdrawn in cash and went from people in the third tier of the criminal group to the second tier.
Some members of the group, in turn, were to make money from the procurement of flood-fighting equipment for the fire brigade. The Ministry of the Interior spent more than EUR 11.7 million on this, while up to EUR 4.8 million was to go to the accused persons in turn. The money was overestimated in the project as the aforementioned cotton wool, i.e. beyond the real prices for delivery. The total price should thus have been overpriced by more than 40 per cent.
Another overpriced tender should have been the purchase of clothing – uniforms for the Ministry of the Interior and the Financial Administration worth EUR 5 million. Thanks to fictitious invoices from subcontractors, the accused increased the total price by at least 539 thousand euros. They subsequently managed to extract them through financial operations in a cache and, according to the police, they ended up in the hands of one of the accused on the second floor of the hierarchy of the criminal group.
A similar procedure was followed in the case of a project called Technical Facilities under the Ministry of the Interior. The accused were supposed to make about EUR 1.2 million on this contract.
According to the police, the group did not target only one department. They were also able to carry out their business at the Social Affairs and Family Labour Centre (ÚPSVaR), which belongs to the ministry of the same name. At the end of the year, the management of the Social Welfare Office decided to equip its offices with recall systems, for which it paid almost EUR 5 million. According to the investigators, this project was artificially overpriced by EUR 1.3 million.
The total damage should have amounted to almost EUR 17 million. According to the police, the findings that most of the money ended up in the hands of businessmen from the second level of the criminal group’s hierarchy are confirmed not only by several witnesses, but also by other evidence.