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Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Is the President of the Court of Audit Tomaž Vesel abusing his position for personal purposes and to attack media freedom?

By: Sara Bertoncelj / Nova24TV

Recently, the former president of the KPK, Boris Štefanec, informed us that he was supposed to sign a written opinion on the performance of Tomaž Vesel’s activities at FIFA. Planet TV reported similarly, i.e. that it was not a consent, but an opinion, and in addition, Vesel never mentioned to Štefanac a good 200 thousand euros in fees. Vesel obviously does not like this provision of information, as the Court of Audit has taken over Telekom, and they are supposed to have Planet TV under scrutiny.

According to an unofficial report by POP TV, Telekom found itself under the scrutiny of state auditors. Namely, the Court of Audit sent a bunch of questions to the company, which refer to everything possible, and they are mainly interested in the sale of the subsidiary Planet TV to Hungarians, in which they have invested as much as 90 million euros since 2012. If they are not satisfied with the answers, they have announced that a comprehensive audit is promised. According to unofficial information, the auditors require all sponsorship and donation contracts, as well as contracts for consulting, legal and advertising services and public relations. According to Primorske novice newspaper, all the required documentation refers to the period of the last two years. In addition to all the above, they are supposed to request documentation on financial transfers to subsidiaries and vice versa, information on the amount of severance pay, termination agreements, a list of employees who are co-owners of Telekom’s business partners, and business plans. In this thorough investigation, the Court of Audit is allegedly aiming primarily at Planet TV.

“Telekom Slovenije respects the highest standards of corporate governance in its operations, and we will provide the Court of Audit with all required documentation within the required deadlines,” Telekom said in a press release published on the Ljubljana Stock Exchange website, they also pointed out that some inaccurate statements appear in the media regarding the requests of the Court of Audit. Which, they did not explain.

An unusual move by the Court of Audit

Finance newspaper reports that it is not very common for the audit of public limited companies to be undertaken by the Court of Audit. Such moves are the responsibility of shareholders in normal corporate governance, which may also require extraordinary and special audits. Some of them were carried out in Telekom, especially when the government was changing and the HR officers wanted to put their people in positions in the company.

So is this perhaps an abuse of position for personal purposes and at the same time an attack on media freedom? Given that the state is the predominant owner of Telekom, it is within the reach of the President of the Court of Audit, Tomaž Vesel. And given that Vesel has announced a review of television sales that critically reports on him, it is not exactly hard to add up one plus one. An even bigger problem, however, is the fact that there is in fact unacceptable pressure on the open sale process of Siol (TS Media), which is currently underway.

Planet TV and Siol have been closely linked as subsidiaries for the past eight years. Therefore, insight into the contracts of the Planet largely also means insight into the bowels of Siol. Interestingly, the Telemach/United group, led by Dragan Šolak, who, on the other hand, buys all possible sports rights from UEFA and Aleksandar Čeferin, is among the competitors for the purchase of Siol. Recall, the Hungarians have a pre-emption only for the Siol portal, and Telekom also sells TS Media. In short, if there is a hint of truth in everything, this is just additional proof that Tomaž Vesel is absolutely unsuitable for the position he still holds, even though the position of a judge of the Court of Audit should, given his many years of inadmissible gainful activity, cease by law itself, from the day on which he took the position at FIFA.

Telecom response

“Some media reported on Thursday, January 28th, 2021, and on Friday, January 29th, 2021, that the Court of Audit had sent a request to Telekom Slovenije, d.d., to submit documentation. In this regard, some inaccurate statements appeared in the media both regarding the content of the desired documentation and regarding the fact that the Court of Audit is “investigating” transactions. At Telekom Slovenije, d.d., we respect the highest standards of corporate governance in our operations, and we will provide the Court of Audit with all required documentation within the required deadlines. We will not comment on any other details in this regard.”


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