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There is corruption, but it’s not everywhere

21.11.2019Comments are closed.

On Monday, 18 November 2019, the School of Economics and Business, University of Ljubljana (SEB LU) held an event called “Following the Money – Youth and Corruption” in its Lilac Hall, thereby launching a week of awareness-raising activities dedicated to fraud. The event was co-organised by the SEB LU together with the Faculty of Law, the Management Group, the TopEF and the Society of Female Students of Business Sciences.

The event attracted guests occupying leading positions concerned with the fight against corruption in Slovenia. The roundtable participants included Boris Štefanec, Chief Commissioner of the Commission for the Prevention of Corruption, Tomaž Vesel, President of the Court of Audit, Lidija Hren, Head of the EkstraVisor Investigation Group at RTV Slovenia and well-known anchor of the Tarča television programme, and Goran Novković, Executive Director of the Slovenian Business Club.

The event was hosted and moderated by Dr Sandra Damijan, Director of Training of the Slovenian Chapter of the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE). Sandi Muheljić, Rok Pučnik and Luka Štrubej, all Faculty of Law students, presented their research on financial crime in Slovenia. They stressed the finding that around half the EUR 7 billion lost annually due to financial crime is a question of corruption. They proposed that an agency be established to manage confiscated assets so as to eliminate legal problems that arise when dealing with such crime. Another point they made is that, should Slovenia fail to set up such a body, over the next 10 years EUR 7 billion will be lost, something that can be prevented.

Boris Štefanec, the Chief Commissioner, started the discussion among the guests by noting that during the 5.5 years of his time in office the Commission for the Prevention of Corruption has examined 6,000 cases. He emphasised that the absence of political responsibility in Slovenia is a huge problem, while concluding that he is proud of the Erar application because it can no longer be shut down at anyone’s behest, like with the former Supervizor application. He remonstrated the professors at the SEB LU while saying that, when wasteful and senseless projects are being launched, they fail to raise their voices.

Tomaž Vesel, President of the Court of Audit, first highlighted that the Court saves Slovenia at least ten times the money the country pays to fund the Court’s operations. He said the Court of Audit has become increasingly proactive and no longer wishes to be an ‘ex post facto’ institution, namely one that becomes a stakeholder in procedures after they have already been finalised. The Court wants to act as preventively as possible. That is why”, Vesel stated, “we are now participating in the formulation of the energy policy.” Moreover, he drew attention to the problem of insufficient clarity in how the standard of proof is defined in the Slovenian legal system. Whenever court proceedings commence, there is always a problem with procedural errors, which is why those responsible typically evade justice.

The third to join the discussion was Goran Novković, who explained that corruption not only exists in the public sector and that “companies are clearly part of this miserable game”. He said there is much corruption in Slovenia, but the problem is that we often say the whole state is corrupt, which is certainly not the case. He also warned about people becoming resigned to this being a matter of fate due to such belief. Among others, Novković mentioned the problematic issue of photovoltaics, which he believes is a very ineffective source of electric energy, having already cost Slovenia EUR 1.5 billion. He also spoke about the problem of rehabilitating the country’s banking system, in which Slovenians – almost without complaining – have sunk several billion euros. “The main issue is not which assets were transferred to the Bank Assets Management Company, but which assets were not.”

Lidija Hren was the last to join the discussion. She said that there was almost no impact after her shows were aired. Not on the judiciary, not on the police, not on the public prosecutor’s office, let alone in politics. She said that politicians frequently rely on evidence of corruption to suit their own interests. She revealed that access to documents is made very difficult because the Public Information Access Act is not being complied with in very many cases, and the people responsible are never punished. “I don’t see any good sense in the developments occurring in this area,” she concluded.

We are pleased that such events which allow for constructive discussion of the most pressing issues are continuing and hope that raising awareness of this subject will in the future eventually produce the desired results.

Uroš Konda, EFnews


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