Prime Minister Robert Fico called on Minister Štefanov to resign on March 9 in response to the findings of a Supreme Audit Office (NKÚ) audit of the bulletin-board tender, which resulted in a Sk 3.6-billion (€ 120-million) government contract being awarded to a sole bidder by the SNS-controlled Construction Ministry.
“I think the NKÚ should file a complaint with the General Prosecutor since there is a suspicion that a crime – fraud, abuse of power or eventually some other criminal definition – has been committed in this case, since there is no evidence that the invoiced services have really been delivered,” Ivan Kuhn, an analyst with the Conservative Institute think tank, told The Slovak Spectator.
“The first information, which the political ethics watchdog Fair-Play Alliance has found out, is based on the amounts invoiced within the bulletin-board tender [from which] it is clear that the advisory services in question were to a large degree fictitious,” Kuhn said. “Thus it is not surprising that the ministry was unable to provide evidence that such services were provided.”
According to Kuhn, Janušek and the-then director of the Agency for Regional Development Igor Štefanov, who signed the invoices for these sums, should bear not only political but also criminal responsibility.
“It is one of the basic problems of the control of the use of EU funds and perhaps also the use of EU funds in general, that only the formal side is being monitored,” said Kuhn explaining that such checks focus on the existence of a contract, invoices and other documents pertaining to the use of EU funds.
“However, it is not being checked whether the service or goods in question could have been procured for a lower price or whether these services were unavoidable for the given project,” Kuhn said.
Kuhn added that the second check was essential so that the exact volume of damages was monitored, however it should have come much earlier: “immediately after the first information on the way the bulletin-board tender was carried out was published, and what shameless sums were invoiced for different services.”
Beata Balogová. Article was published in the Slovakia`s English-language weekly The Slovak Spectator. Read the whole article here.