Following recent reports that a company formerly owned by Economy Minister Pavol Pavlis is embroiled in a lawsuit with the state worth EUR 60 million, opposition MPs are now calling for his resignation.
The company Port Service has been demanding EUR 60 million from the National Property Fund (FNM) just for being excluded from the privatisation tender for state-owned Slovenska plavba and pristavy (SPaP) back in 2002. Not only did Pavlis used to be a co-owner of the company, but the FNM comes under his remit as economy minister, showing a clear conflict of interests as he is essentially representing the state in the case.
Even though the state was successful in the case in 2008, some greasing of hands may have taken place as the Supreme Court ruling was overturned after former attorney general Dobroslav Trnka intervened. The appeal of Port Service cost around EUR 20,000 and it seems that it was Pavlis who even put up the money for it in 2008, although not officially associated with the company since 2006 (via the parent company), which is when he became an MP. Due to certain procedural errors, the case will now be dealt with by the Bratislava Regional Court.
Now opposition MPs from SaS, Nova and OLaNO are collating signatures in parliament to convene an extraordinary session to recall Pavlis from his post (the backing of 30 MPs is required). The session will probably take place sometime next week, but Pavlis’ colleagues from the standalone governing party Smer-SD will most likely ensure he is not recalled with their parliamentary majority.
Pavlis became a member of the supervisory board in the FNM not long after the lawsuit of his company was filed against it. The company Port Service has been owned since 2006 by a company called Castelo Holdings NV on the tax haven of Curacao. Till 2006, Port Service was owned by Port Service Bratislava, which is co-owned by Pavlis’ wife via the company Fin-Mark s.r.o. Surely no conflict of interests here.