STA, 15 July 2019 - Reporter, the right-leaning weekly, analyses the background story of the Slovenian citizen Mihael Karner and his web of accomplices who have allegedly made a fortune selling steroids online.
The editorial believes that the story probably started at an office in the Augusta villa in Ljubljana more than 20 years ago, with young men hanging out, working out and discovering the effects of anabolic steroids.
"There it was that those young men probably came up with this "business idea" and developed it into a global business in the following years.
"Since they walked the razor's edge and likely even crossed it, the group, who was dubbed a criminal organisation by the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), was making easy money and a lot of it, which mostly ended up in real estate projects in Slovenia and its neighbouring countries through a complex tax haven scheme."
Karner and his wife were then arrested in Austria in late 2011 on US Federal indictment for conspiracy to distribute anabolic steroids, conspiracy to import anabolic steroids and conspiracy to launder money.
The editorial presumes that Karner and his wife met through her brother who socialised with Karner at the villa. Another link was the wife's uncle, Danilo Slivnik, who set up the office there.
The editor-in-chief Silvester Šurla points out that allegedly several members of Slivnik's family were involved in Karner's illicit drug business, but the US government has targeted only two other people apart from Karner himself - his wife and his brother, offering up to five million dollars each for any information on their travelling abroad plans which would help to arrest them.
The three targeted people could thus face extradition to US and up to 20 years in prison. Slivnik, who was involved in Karner's real estate business projects, which were a way to launder the money gained through selling anabolic steroids, committed suicide soon after the 2011 arrest.
"It's tragic and rather sad that Slivnik paid the biggest price in this unfortunate story, a man who was only a supporting actor in this scandal and was not involved in anabolic steroids trafficking as opposed to his relatives," says the editorial, concluding that Slivnik was never a target of the US government investigation.
STA, 2 April 2019 - The Koper District Court sentenced on Tuesday former Istrabenz general manager Igor Bavčar to two years and six months in prison for abuse of office. Since he is already serving a five-year prison sentence for money laundering related to a deal involving Istrabenz shares, he was handed a uniform sentence of seven years and five months.
The other defendant, former Maksima Holding director general Miroslav Golubić, got a prison sentence of a year and eight months.
The prosecution demanded two years and a half for Bavčar and two years for Golubić.
The pair were on trial over a 2007 deal involving a purchase of Intereuropa shares.
The Istrabenz conglomerate entered a forward contract Maksima Holding had with the bank Banka Celje which set down a mandatory purchase of Intereuropa shares at a set price and in a specified period.
It bought almost 288,000 Intereuropa shares at 49 euro a piece from Banka Celje on 20 December 2007 at a price of EUIR 14.1m, and sold them back to the bank a day later at 36 euro a piece, or for around EUR 10.4m.
The prosecution has argued that by overpaying the shares by EUR 3.7m, Istrabenz incurred the damage that would have been otherwise incurred by Maksima Holding.
The court ordered today that all assets illegally gained by Maksima Holding be confiscated.
The ruling is not final yet.
The head of the judicial panel, Orjana Trunkl, said the deal was unnecessary, even harmful for Istrabenz. Bavčar clearly ventured into it to prevent damage to Maksima Holding, she said.
This was in his best interest as the absolute owner of the company FBI, which held a controlling stake in Maksima Holding, which was preparing the ground for the takeover of Istrabenz.
Golubić, whom the court found to be actively helping Bavčar, received a milder sentence because he was an accomplice and had no previous criminal record.
Neither of the defendants were in court today, but given their line of defence, they will probably lodge an appeal.
The prosecution in contrast, is happy with the ruling and will not appeal unless any procedural problems arise.
STA, 4 December 2018 - Slovenian authorities and banks took part in a massive Europe-wide effort to combat money laundering between September and November. In Slovenia, 33 money laundering cases were investigated during that period, with the authorities uncovering 32 money mules and seizing nearly EUR 1m.
The Police Administration said in a press release on Tuesday that it had investigated an increased number of money mules, individuals who receive money stemming from criminal activities to their bank accounts.
The funds most often come from fraud, business fraud and cyber-crimes such as IT breaches, phishing and online fraud, the police added.
What is a money mule?
A money mule is a person who transfers in person, via a courier, or electronically, money that has been illegally acquired for someone else. A money mule is usually paid from the money transferred, and often engage in such work thinking it is legitimate.
During the autumn campaign, the Slovenian police investigated 33 cases related to fraud, business fraud, forgery of documents and money laundering. The police investigated 32 money mules who received a total of EUR 2.8m to their bank accounts.
In cooperation with the Office for Money Laundering Prevention and Slovenian banks, the police temporarily seized EUR 970,000. They also arrested two suspects and conducted two house searches.
Money mules in Slovenia are typically foreign citizens who open bank accounts in the country to launder money.
The press release also says that Slovenian police conducted a long criminal investigation that resulted in the apprehension of two money mules, both Serbian citizens.
They were part of a scheme defrauding US companies via telephone and the internet. More than 60 transactions were carried out, defrauding 10 US companies of a total of EUR 3.7m.
In total, the Europe-wide campaign, dubbed EMMA 4, uncovered more than 1,500 money mules and nearly 170 people were arrested, the European Banking Federation said in a press release today, as it launched a campaign against money muling.
STA, 17 May 2018 - A parliamentary inquiry into suspected money laundering at NLB and NKBM banks has spread the blame wide for suspected misdeeds at Slovenia's largest banks. In the case of NLB, it pointed the finger at the Borut Pahor government (2008-2011), former central bank governor Marko Kranjec and several senior bank executives.