Mladina Connects Hojs’ Discount Koper Land Purchase with Ex-Mayor, Russian Investor

By , 20 Sep 2020, 13:37 PM Politics
Interior Minister Aleš Hojs Interior Minister Aleš Hojs

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STA, 18 September 2020 - Interior Minister Aleš Hojs has purchased a plot of land on the Slovenian coast for less than a third of the price the Koper municipality could have potentially fetched with the sale, Mladina reports on Friday. It suggests that Boris Popovič, the mayor of Koper at the time the land was initially sold to a Russian company, is involved.

The weekly says that Hojs purchased last July building land in the village of Kolomban, which overlooks the Slovenian coast near Koper.

The property was purchased from the Russian national Marat Idrisov, whose company had bought a larger piece of land in April 2017 at a public auction from the Koper municipality, which decided after the auction to service the land with a road and a sewage system.

The municipality, which was run by Boris Popovič at the time, sold a total of 3,894 square metres of land in Kolomban. Idrisov was the only bidder, as the land had not even been accessible by road at the time.

His company, Rjeckon, purchased the land at the asking price of EUR 262,920 or EUR 67.50 per square metre, which is a lower than the Koper municipality usually sells land plots to its residents, the weekly adds.

It notes that Rjeckon "is an unknown company, without particular references, and which prior to 2017 actually had no noteworthy revenue or assets expected from a company registered for real estate deals".

Idrisov is an acquaintance of Popovič's infrastructure advisor Radivoje Anđelković, who is believed to have helped the Russian buy the land. For instance, Anđelković allowed Idrisov to register his company at his home address in Ljubljana.

When the land was sold to Idrisov, it was still inaccessible by car, but after the sale the municipality decided to build utility infrastructure there - including a road to all land plots sold and a sewage system, the weekly notes.

Idrisov had thus actually purchased land for which other interested buyers could not have possibly known or predict that it would be provided with infrastructure at the municipality's expense.

Moreover, instead of a plot on which the local authorities built an access road, Idrisov was given the remainder of the available adjacent land to improve the functionality of the entire land plot.

Idrisov then divided his land into several plots and sold it to four persons, including Popovič, Anđelković and Hojs. The interior minister purchased 882 square metres for EUR 75,910, or EUR 86 per square metre.

Had the municipality serviced the land before selling it at auction, it could have fetched more than EUR 300 per square metre or more than EUR 1 million. In that case Hojs, would have to pay EUR 264,600 for his plot, according to Mladina.

The minister has told Mladina that he had reported the deal to the Commission for the Prevention of Corruption, that he had financed it with his own assets and a loan, and that Popovič had not helped him with the purchase.

In a response, Hojs told the press in parliament he had nothing to add because everything is written in the opposition Left's online bulletin - Mladina.

Hojs is defending some of his past actions in the National Assembly as MPs are discussing the opposition-sponsored motion of no-confidence in him.

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