By: Sara Kovač / Nova24tv
Our editorial office recently obtained some interesting information, which led us to the path of the allegedly controversial financing of Robert Golob’s election campaign. Robert Golob is the latest “new face” on the Slovenian political scene and the former President of the Management Board of the Slovenian energy company Gen-I, and during our latest research, we found that his election campaign might be financed through the project of the Krško Nuclear Power Plant 2. We are talking about a deal that is worth 1,669,905.50 euros, including VAT, that has been concluded between the Gen Energija company and the Consensus d.o.o. company. The date of signing the deal is the 24th of December, 2021. As is also stated, this is an “Agreement on communication support, consulting and implementation of communication activities in the field of corporate public relations and the Krško Nuclear Power Plant 2 project” (the second block of the Krško nuclear power plant). These are extremely high amounts, which remind us of another similar story from the past, when the Futura agency supposedly won a three-million-euro deal with Dejan Židan’s Social Democrats party (SD). We also know that the Pristop company has engaged in certain controversial practices in the past (for example, the Pomurje project), and Pristop is closely related to the Consensus company in terms of staff. Allegedly, a million euros disappeared as part of these controversial practices. However, the Consensus d.o.o. company denied any alleged connections to Golob, as the GEN Group is in litigation with Golob over the appointment of new members of the Gen-I Management Board.
As the Finance newspaper reported on the 9th of December 2021, the company Gen Energija (Gen Energy), which is owned by the state and manages the Krško nuclear power plant, has published a tender for the second block of the power plant. Namely, they were looking for communication support related to this project. According to their article, the deal is worth 1.4 million euros without VAT. However, apparently, there was only one application sent in response to the tender. But it should also be pointed out that this is not the only nor the largest tender for the second block, and the final decisions regarding the project have not been made yet.
The only company that applied for the tender is Consensus d.o.o. The cooperation between Gen Energija and Consensus has been going on for many years. Pristop, the company GAZ from Krško, and the foreign company Fluent and Energy Ltd., are also expected to participate in the project as subcontractors. The final price of the project is not yet known. However, the value of the deal seems quite high. In the next two years, the funds will be used for the implementation costs: graphic design and video production, production of online presentations, organisation of events and monitoring of the media announcements.
A large part of the money is also supposedly intended for the leasing of media space. Excellent cooperation between the Gen Energija and the Consensus d.o.o. companies is also evident from Erar, the web application for the portrayal of public money use in the Republic of Slovenia. Over the past year, financial activity between the two companies has strengthened significantly. And since 1.4 million euros excluding VAT is a considerable amount of money, the question arises as to whether the amount could be intended for more than just the communication activities related to the Krško Nuclear Power Plant 2 project. We already know about similar controversial practices from the past, for example, between the Futura DDB d.o.o. (an advertising agency) and the Ministry of Agriculture, which was supposedly indirectly used to finance the SD party. We already wrote about the 2-million-euro deal between the two partners in the past.
The disputed deal between the Futura agency and the Social Democrats was worth three million euros
Here is what happened: given the events related to the scale model affair and the resignation of former Minister of the Environment, Jure Leben, there is practically no one who has not heard of the existence of the Futura agency yet. Namely, Futura was chosen to prepare a scale model, despite the fact that its offer had the highest price. And the exact same thing happened in the case of the Futura agency’s cooperation with the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Food, as a deal worth three million euros was made when the Futura agency was chosen for a project, once again despite having the highest price, which is why the SDS MP Žan Mahnič, called for efficiency and economy of the project, while also pointing out that there is suspicion of illegal financing of Židan’s SD party.
In light of this, the contract between Gen Energija and Consensus d.o.o. also seems interesting, especially because there are close personnel connections between the company Consensus and another company for communication management – Pristop d.o.o., evident from the past (and from public records), and Pristop became known in public, according to some media, due to the controversial Pomurje project, during which a disappearance of one million euros of money happened. This triggered extensive criminal investigations (and house searches). There was even talk of serious forms of economic crime. However, the company Pristop is also known for some other controversial issues from the past. Here is what the newspaper Delo wrote about it on the 12th of December 2017: “Between 2003 and 2016, the public sector paid almost 21.5 million euros for public relations, and the Pristop company received the largest share of payment.”
Pristop even advised the financially wasteful former Minister of Labour, Family, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities, Anja Kopač Mrak, for more than 100 thousand euros
In the case of Pristop, there might even be patterns of controversial practices, as stated by the Commission for the Prevention of Corruption. Pristop received more than half of all funding for the PR services, and between the years 2003 and 2010, it received as much as 79 percent. The story, presented by the newspaper Finance on the 5th of July 2017, is also interesting. Namely, the Bank Assessment Management Company (BAMC) chose the only bid received – that made by the Pristop company. The price of the company’s advisory services amounted to 5,500 euros per month (plus Vat). For 18 months of advisory services, this amounts to 99 thousand euros (plus VAT). Allegedly, other agencies complained that they could not even send their own bids in. What is also interesting is the story from the 20th of October 2016, which was also reported on by the Finance newspaper: the Pristop agency supposedly had a deal for a seven-month (financially wasteful) consultation with the Ministry of Labour, which was led by Anja Kopač Mrak at the time, from the Social Democrats party. The whole thing cost just over 100 thousand euros.
Here is the response we received from the Consensus d.o.o. company when we asked them about this topic: “The tender was published by the GEN Group, and we signed a contract with them. You can even find information about it on the portal, as to which activities this contract envisages in the next two years. The GEN Group is in litigation with Robert Golob over the appointment of the Gen-I Management Board. Regardless, none of the members of the consortium had ever had anything to do, one way or another, with Gen-I and even less with Robert Golob.
And since we are in a contractual relationship with a company that is in legal conflict with Robert Golob, it would really be very, very unusual if we supported him in any way. I would also like to add this: neither me personally, nor the Consensus company, has ever, and I mean ever, used as much as one euro of consultancy or any other contractually obtained money for anything other than the contractually defined activities. And to channel any money into a party is something for which I can personally say that I would rather eternally burn in hell than be involved in anything like that.”