Criminal investigations launched at Slovenia’s Nova24TV and Telekom Slovenije

Criminal investigations launched at Slovenia’s Nova24TV and Telekom Slovenije
Nova24TV director and co-owner Boris Tomasic claimed the investigations were deliberately timed ahead of the European Parliament elections next month. / Nova24TV via Facebook
By Valentina Dimitrievska in Skopje May 29, 2024

Criminal investigations have been conducted at Nova24TV in Ljubljana, linked to the opposition right-wing Slovenian Democratic Party (SDS), and its director and co-owner Boris Tomasic, as well as at the country's biggest telco Telekom Slovenije.

Unofficial sources quoted by daily Delo on May 29 suggest that these investigations are linked to suspicions of bypass financing of SDS party through various media during party leader Janez Jansa's administration.

Representatives of the Ljubljana Police Department visited the headquarters of the companies in the morning, signaling the start of legal proceedings.

Telekom Slovenije clarified that while it is not the subject of the proceedings, it is fully cooperating with the investigators and providing the necessary documentation.

The Ljubljana Police Administration also affirmed their involvement in activities related to criminal offenses in the realm of economic crime.

The development comes after the interim report of the investigation commission of the Slovenian parliament, formerly led by MP Mojca Setinc Pasek, was forwarded to investigative authorities.

Pasek elaborated on the matter, saying that the suspicions outlined in the interim report concerning Nova24 are being confirmed. These suspicions primarily involve allegations of abuses and violations of laws related to funding from Hungary and detrimental contracts with Telekom.

Tamara Vonta, the current president of the investigative commission, spoke of the impropriety of using public funds to finance party news outlets.

Nova24TV's director Boris Tomasic suggested that the investigations were deliberatly timed before the European Parliament elections due to take place in June. SDS president Jansa echoed this sentiment on X network.

The opposition SDS led by former prime minister Jansa is anticipated to secure the highest number of votes in the European elections, followed by the ruling Freedom Movement led by PM Robert Golob.

“The police under Slovenian government is conducting a brutal police investigation of the only significant media that is sympathetic to the opposition. 10 days before the EP elections!! And the government of Slovenia is low in public opinion,” Jansa said on X network.

Late last year, Slovenian parliament received the interim report of the investigative commission, which highlighted concerns regarding the operation and financing of SDS activities through a network of bypass accounts. Companies such as, Nova hisa and Nova obzorja were allegedly involved in transferring funds to these accounts.

The commission also investigated Telekom's contract with the Copyright Institute, established in 2020, for distributing Nova24TV and other programmes. The five-year, €6mn contract raised suspicions of commercial harm to Telekom Slovenije. The report also highlighted illicit influence by public officeholders on the company's board and supervisory bodies during contract negotiations.