Corruption a Growing Problem in Slovenia

By , 06 Nov 2019, 09:30 AM Politics
Corruption a Growing Problem in Slovenia, CC-by-0

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Please note that a forum on white collar crime was organised by the Centre for Education in Judiciary, which operates under the wing of the Justice Ministry, not by the Association of State Prosecutors, as stated in Tuesday's copy in para 2.

STA, 5 November 2019 - White-collar crime in the usual sense is on decline in Slovenia, while corruption is on the rise, State Prosecutor General Drago Šketa said on Tuesday. Prosecutor Boštjan Valenčič believes this is so because "corruption is still socially acceptable".

Addressing a two-day forum on white collar crime hosted by the Centre for Education in Judiciary, Šketa called corruption a "systemic anomaly", which should be prevented by state mechanisms.

He gave corruption in healthcare as an example, saying that criminal proceedings were being launched for acts committed ten years ago. "Supervisory mechanisms should have detected those anomalies right at the start."

Valenčič, a prosecutor at the Specialised State Prosecution, said that case law was gradually being created for white collar crime.

Responding to public criticism that "the big fish always get away with it", he said that certain "big fish" were serving their sentences at the moment, while some had been found not guilty by courts.

He said a reason why the procedures in high-profile cases took so long was outdated legislation, which did not envisage cases of such complexity and so many suspects.

Another reason is that Slovenia did not have a specialised court for dealing with white-collar crime cases, Valenčič said.

This was echoed by former State Prosecutor General Zvonko Fišer, who was critical of the changes to the penal code and the criminal procedure act made in recent years. "These are complex laws, which need to be consistent. Our current approach, changing the law over individual cases, does not lead to good solutions," he said.

The prosecutors also touched on the confiscation of assets of illicit origin act, which was watered down by a Constitutional Court decision that the law cannot apply for assets gained before the passage of the law.

They agreed Slovenia should follow the example of Italy, which has an instrument called preventive confiscation, which is not bound to a concrete criminal act. This mechanism has also received a green light from the European Court of Human Rights.

Fišer was also very critical of the recently launched inquiry into the prosecution of Franc Kangler, the former Maribor mayor.

"The fact that parliament ordered an inquiry to establish political responsibility of judges and state prosecutors in concrete criminal cases is a first-class scandal," he said.

He was also critical of the fact that neither the president, prime minister nor justice minister reacted to this. "I don't expect them to defend any individual decisions of the judiciary, but they should say that in a democratic country investigating the political responsibility of judges and prosecutors is a no-go," he said.

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