Gorilla fires its first shot against former Slovak economy minister

By bne IntelliNews March 16, 2012

Tim Gosling in Prague -

The first corruption charges stemming from the "Gorilla" files have been issued against a former Slovakian economy minister connected to the privatisation of an energy company to the murky financial group Penta, according to reports on March 15.

Pavol Rusko, economy minister between 2003-05, has been charged with fraud by Slovakian prosecutors for his part in the privatisation of power producer Steam-Gas Cycle (PPC) to Penta in 2004. Interior Minister Daniel Lipsic refused to give further details as he made the announcement.

The case against Rusko has been brewing in the past few weeks. Lipsic said on March 5 that the "disadvantageous" sale may have cost the state as much as SKK15bn (€500m). At the heart of the matter is a contract PPC held to sell its output to Slovenske Elektrarne (SE) - the country's largest state-owned utility at the time.

Rusko has called the accusations "absurd," whilst Penta has refused to comment. However, on March 5, Penta spokesman Martin Danko said that the conditions under which PPC sells the power it generates to SE were actually negotiated two years after its privatisation,

The charges are the first to be issued based on the "Gorilla" files, which were allegedly compiled by the country's security services from recordings made at a Penta "safe house". Several senior politicians are reportedly featured on the tapes discussing privatisation and other matters with the financial group.

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