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Saturday, December 3, 2022

How A Homeless Man Died In A Market Fire – And A Company Where Aleš Musar Was A Proxy Was Suspected Of Deliberately Setting The Market On Fire

By: Tanja Brkić / Nova24tv

In the article below, we are publishing the story from 2011 about the burning of a market in Žalec, where a homeless man died. At the time, the Žalec market was owned by the company SM Invest d.d., where Aleš Musar had been a proxy between the years 2003 and 2005. He says that he has had nothing more to do with the company since 2005.

The business career of Aleš Musar, the spouse of presidential candidate Nataša Pirc Musar, has been quite a colourful one – as a relatively young businessman, he had already amassed a fortune that is unimaginable for mere mortals. His entrepreneurial career is also marked by alleged controversial business ownership, and among other things, he was the proxy of the SM Invest d.d. company, which was the owner of the Žalec market hall where a homeless man died in a fire in 2011.

Criminal investigators suspected arson
In 2011, a market in Žalec caught fire and burnt to the ground despite the intervention of the firefighters. The 50 by 50-metre complex was already in a poor state, and the wooden buildings made the fire spread even faster. A man’s body was also found at the site, which was initially unidentifiable due to its poor condition but was later identified by investigators as a 39-year-old homeless man. The criminal investigation at the time was researching the suspicion of deliberate arson, but the case was never solved.

The market was originally owned by the company Savinjska trgovska družba, d.d. (the successor of Savinjski magazine), which started to gradually sell or close its shops around the Savinjska valley in the late 1990s and declared bankruptcy in 2006. In the meantime, it ended up in the ownership of the investment company SM Invest, d.d., which also went bankrupt. According to the people who lived in Žalec at the time, the market was often a refuge for homeless people and drug addicts, and the then-Mayor of Žalec, Janko Kos, told the media that they had long been unhappy about the place in question, but that their hands were tied because they had been unable to negotiate a buy-out with the new owner of the market. The owner of the market was SN Invest d.d., which was bankrupt at the time. And in the company in question, which was based on Brnčičeva Street in Črnuče, Aleš Musar had been the proxy of the company since 2004, as can be seen from the court register.

After the arson and the subsequent reconstruction plan, the then-Vice Mayor of Žalec, Marko Laznik, explained to the media that the complication over the ownership of the land on which the market was built had been resolved. The company SM Invest d.d. was bankrupt at the time, but later, a contract for the sale of the land was signed with the company, and a five percent down payment was made. The land thus became the property of the municipality, and the total purchase price was 145 thousand euros.

Musar explained that he had worked for SM Savinsjka trgovska družba d.d. (SM Savinjska trading company) in the years between 2003 and 2005. “After mid-2005, I no longer had any role or authority in the company. You can certainly find information on when the company was renamed SM Invest and what happened to it after 2005 in the public registers. At the time I worked for this company, the buildings in the market were in good condition and were being rented out to various tenants. At the time of the tragic event in 2011, I had not had any contact with the company for several years.”

When he got an opportunity with tycoon Horvat, his career took off
The entrepreneurial career of Aleš Musar, who is now the director of the Russian Dacha, a cultural monument in Zgornje Gameljne, has been anything but boring. Nine years ago, the newspaper Finance valued Musar’s fortune at between five and ten million euros. His business career began in the financial company Aktiva Group of the notorious investment company baron Darko Horvat, where Musar was employed from July 2000 to the end of 2002, and later, he founded the company S. T. Hammer, with Rok Habinec and Marko Konič, which was owned by the company of the same name, that was set up in a tax haven in the British Channel Islands. It was in 2013 when the newspaper Finance wrote how Aleš Musar’s companies had taken away four million euros from HTG for creditors, the state, Kapitalska družba d.d., and other shareholders. “According to our findings, S. T. Hammer, headed by the husband of the Information Commissioner Nataša Pirc Musar, Aleš Musar, siphoned off at least four million euros from HTG, allegedly harming the company, other owners, creditors and the state,” they reported at the time.

They later bought a majority stake in the company SCT Strojegradnja from their former employer Horvat, which was once an example of a successful construction company, but gradually sunk during the transition period in the hands of Musar, Habinc and Konič. The aforementioned had, therefore, gotten their hands on a successful company, but in reality, they were more interested in the location on which it stood, where they planned to build the prestigious residential neighbourhood K 66. “In 2009, Musar, Habinc and Konič sent Strenia into liquidation due to a decline in construction orders. 127 people lost their jobs,” explained the Siol media outlet. After leaving Horvat’s Aktiva, Musar was, among others, the co-owner of the companies S-Real, Plama Pur, the venture capital company STH Ventures and Eta Kamnik, where the also controversial ownership of one of our largest food producers bought it to the brink of collapse.

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