The CPC found a number of violations of financial disclosures obligations by the prime minister and the head of the opposition
On Tuesday, 8 January 2013, the Slovenian Independent Commission for the Prevention of Corruption (hereinafter: CPC) – after the ruling of its three panel senate – announced the findings of a year-long investigation into the holders of the highest political offices who are (or were in the time of the inception of the oversight in the beginning of 2012) also heads of seven parliamentary parties in relation to their assets declaration and financial disclosure laws. The CPC commenced the investigation after the last Parliamentary elections in 2011 where the wealth and assets of main politicians became the subject of significant public attention. The CPC performed an oversight of assets of Mr. Karl Viktor Erjavec (Minister of Foreign Affairs), Mr. Zoran Janković (Mayor of Ljubljana and head of opposition), Mr. Ivan Janez Janša (Prime Minister) Ms. Ljudmila Novak (Minister of Slovenian Diaspora), Mr. Borut Pahor (President of the Republic), Mr. Gregor Virant (President of the Parliament), Mr. Radovan Žerjav (Minister of Economy).
The CPC’s investigation revealed that out of the seven persons mentioned, two – namely Slovene Prime Minister Mr. Janez Janša (also the head of the main Government Party - SDS) and the Mayor of Ljubljana Mr. Zoran Janković (also the head of the main opposition party – PS), systematically and repeatedly violated the law by failing to properly report their assets to the CPC. The CPC did not find any violations in respect to other party leaders.
In the case of Prime Minister Janša the CPC’s investigation additionally uncovered private expenses and use of funds in the amount of at least 200.000 EUR which came of unknown origin and exceed his official income and savings. Furthermore, the CPC has concluded that there are reasons to believe that the purchase of one of the Prime Minister’s real-estate was indirectly co-funded by a construction firm with major government contract.
In case of Mayor Janković, CPC’s investigation uncovered a systemic failure to report his full assets to the CPC – 2.4 million EUR in total in 6 years’ time being in office as well as his transactions with the shares of different companies. Furthermore, the CPC uncovered several financial chain-transactions between the companies owned by Mr. Janković’s sons and companies doing mutli-million businesses with the city, part of these funds were transferred to a private account of the Mayor.
The CPC didn’t find any substantial violations or unexplained wealth in relation to other five functionaries under scrutiny.
It is important to note, that the findings of the CPC are based on factual evidence, in-depth financial investigation and that both officials had several opportunities to respond to the evidence collected by the CPC – they were questioned by the CPC and got additional opportunity to provide written explanations and documents. Nevertheless, upon being faced with the allegations and presented with the CPC request for clarification, neither the Prime Minister nor the Mayor of Ljubljana was able to present – in CPC’s view - any comprehensive and substantial explanation.
It is also important to note, that according to the Integrity and Prevention of Corruption Act under which the CPC operates, the burden of proof to explain undeclared wealth is on the official him/her-self.
After the publication of the report the CPC also noted significant shortcoming in the Slovenian anti-corruption legislation and called for its improvement. The CPC also noted with worry, that while Slovenia has introduced its assets declaration system in 1994 and the Commission for the Prevention of Corruption has been established in 2004 to conduct oversight, in all those years oversight was weak and almost no cases were investigated and violations were found for years. With the new law in 2011 and the new Commission which introduced electronic monitoring of assets declaration in late 2011, the proper investigations into financial disclosures became possible. In general, the report’s findings present an admonition that such breaches would not occur - or at least not to that extent – if in the 22 years of its independence, the Republic of Slovenia established a proper institutional, material and legislative framework that would actually curb corruption risks and enable efficient detection and sanctioning of violators. In the report CPC therefore proposes an amendment of the relevant legislation to meet that aim.
At the same time the CPC also expressed publicly that it expects that in the following days and weeks a battle of various interpretations, even discreditation of the report and the CPC will arise, adding that they had already faced such problems during the oversight procedure.The situation is furthermore complicated because two main politicians in the country – the head of government and the head of opposition were involved.
After the publication of the findings by the CPC, both, the Prime Minister and the Head of Opposition denied all findings of the CPC and following the expressed support and trust of their parties rejected resignation from their posts.
The CPC’s head Goran Klemenčič said in a public statement on Tuesday that he is proud of his colleagues to be able to conduct and finalize such a sensitive case, but that as a citizen he was saddened by the findings. He also noted significant institutional and legal deficiencies of the Slovenia anti-corruption framework and called for change of the legislation in these areas and the strengthening of the supervisory bodies. He concluded that he personally sees no point in remaining in his position of the CPC Chief Commissioner if on one hand the findings of an independent central anti-corruption agency of such gravity are left unanswered by the highest public and political officials, while on the other hand the CPC lacks legal powers to enforce their accountability.