by Vida Kocjan
You can no longer find the name Gregor Golobič among the active businesses in the business databases. Even his status of an independent entrepreneur for business consulting, with the address in Seča near Portorož, was deleted from the business registry on the 31st of July, 2017. Golobič’s entrepreneurial path was short, in less than three years he had amassed almost 167 thousand euros, which is not bad at all. But apparently, a good 5,000 euros a month was not enough for his needs. He ended his entrepreneurial journey. It is currently unknown what he does for a living. He has tried to convince some that he is a farmer, but those who know him realise than this is more of a front than anything else.
Gregor Golobič has been in politics for a long time. Many things have gone to ruin in the meantime; he has not. He was the former secretary-general of the Liberal Democracy of Slovenia (LDS) party, which has gone to ruin long ago, and after that, he founded and was the president of the Zares party. Which is also long gone. He was the chief personnel officer in the country. Well, as it turns out, he still is. Only this time, it is from the background. How and how much is he paid for this work, however, is something that other professionals will have to figure out. Ones from the financial field, for example.
During the long-time reign of the LDS party, Golobič and his political circle felt completely untouchable, as right up until the election of the first government of Janez Janša in 2004. In the decade before that, the LDS party managed to amass a lot of wealth, which is still the financial foundation for all new instant parties that have emerged in recent years and also quickly disappeared in the Slovenian political space.
In this article, we would like to remind you of the Smelt, Elan, Hit and NLB Sigma scandals, as well as the scandals related to the Fund for the Construction of the Children’s Hospital, the Red Cross, operating tables, SIB bank, Nada Klemenčič and Zavarovalnica Triglav, Orion, Zbiljski gaj, Pompe, Dadas, Satex, and the bribes from the Swedish telecommunications company Erikson in the case of building a third mobile network UMTS; the Ultra scandal, and many more.
The personnel violin of the transitional left
The golden days of the deep state’s rule, which hid behind the cosmopolitan image of the long-time leader of the LDS party, the late Janez Drnovšek, Ph.D., lasted from 1992 to 2004. In public, Drnovšek gave the appearance of an honest person, and the party’s secretary-general, Gregor Golobič, was the one who performed the deep state’s tasks. Whether he also did it without the consent of the party president, on his own, we will never know. The fact is that even after Drnovšek’s death, Golobič remained an important personnel violin of the transitional left, which some would even call the deep state.
After gaining its independence, Slovenia was shaken by numerous scandals related to the privatisation of the former social property, which was “a pot of gold” for some. One of the first major scandals that happened after independence was the Smelt affair. Smelt was the republic’s centre of the intelligence and security service in the period before independence. It was founded by the Slovenian UDBA members from the company GIO (Gradbeni inženiring operativa), who were involved numerous espionage actions, both in Yugoslavia and abroad, since they were employed as “builders” and therefore had access to a lot of useful data and persons. For more than 20 years, Smelt was run by Jože Žagar, a close friend of Milan Kučan and his wife, Štefka. After Slovenia gained its independence, Žagar also ran Smelt Intag in Zürich, between 1991 and 1999.
A criminal investigation in Smelt revealed a number of criminal offences of abuse of position, forgery of documents, fictitious contracts, aiding and abetting criminal services, and financial or material gain. The main problem was the construction of the WTC centre in Ljubljana, as there were allegedly many fictitious contracts and forged documents discovered in this project.
Elan and Hit as “cash cows”
The refugee Elan is another well-known affair: a Slovenian company that had been successful for many years. It was destroyed, and despite the fact that the criminal investigators filed 29 criminal charges, absolutely nothing happened to any of the main players in the matter. Only the unfortunate Pavel Koder was punished. None of the others who were responsible for the company being ruined had been convicted. Judge Anton Šubic “forgot” to write the verdict in eight months. Elan was then bought by a consortium of Croatian creditors Komel. But since the consortium did not pay the purchase price, Privredna banka Zagreb became a 77 percent owner of Elan. When Elan got into trouble again, the Zagreb bank sold its share to the Slovenian state in March of 2000. After the repurchase of Elan from the Croatian owner and the rehabilitation of the company with state aid, Elan was led, among others, by Uroš Koržeta, a former director of the Development Fund, who oversaw the privatisation of the former socially-owned property. Korže also found himself in court, accused of falsifying business results for the years between 2000 and 2003. The Court of Audit noted that Elan’s management found that the restructuring of the Elan Group had been uneconomical during this period. At that time, the government, partly under Drnovšek’s and partly under Rop’s leadership, turned a blind eye to such misuse of public funds, and the government institutions shifted responsibility from one to the other.
And since we are talking about affairs, we cannot overlook the HIT affair either. Between 15 and 20 million euros supposedly disappeared in this one. The HIT affair was revealed in 1991, when Danilo Kovačič, the then-leader of HIT in Nova Gorica, was accused of abusing his position, due to a loan agreement between HIT and the fictitious Panamanian company CLS S.A. At the time, Nelida Nemec, the mother of today’s MP Matjaž Nemec, was Kovačič’s close associate. The story was long, Kovačič was sentenced to a short term in prison, he was saved of prison by the then-President of the Republic Janez Drnovšek, who pardoned the long-time influential director of HIT.
As the largest state-owned bank, Nova Ljubljanska banka (NLB) was a real mecca for the transitional left. Banking and money are their fetishes. With this, we also need to mention the Sigma information system. The auditing company Accenture estimated that NLB had spent over 18 billion Slovenian tolars (which is 75 million euros) by the end of 2002, while the total cost of the project was at least 30 percent or approximately 20 million euros lower. The traces led to Marko Voljč, the long-time transitional financier and then-president of the NLB Management Board. The affair was discovered after NLB decided to purchase the Australian Sigma system to renovate its information system. The problem was that, together with the programme, they also imported a whole bunch of Australian programmers who, for their poorly done work, lived in Slovenia at the expense of NLB for several months, and consequently, when the bank had to be recapitalised, they lived here at the expense of Slovenian taxpayers as well. In 2003, the new information system collapsed completely. Nothing serious happened to Marko Voljč because of this affair, he was even rewarded, and later he held several supervisory positions in Slovenian state and foreign companies.
The construction of the Children’s Hospital: Biserka Marolt Meden and the Konta company
The construction of the Children’s Hospital took more than ten years. The president of the committee for the construction of the Children’s Hospital was Biserka Marolt Meden, who is currently well-known as the president of the Silver Thread Association (Društvo srebrna nit). In 2000, she approved a loan from the fund in the amount of 10 million tolars to council member Srečko Kirm and his company Konta. We were able to see the epilogue of this affair in court, when Meden proved her innocence in 2006, by the Kirm company returning the money (after two years) with interest.
Medicoengineering and the Maquet operating tables for twice the price
The predecessor of the infamous medical equipment procurement company Medicoengineering, Aico-Med, was selected for the supply of operating tables in 2002 – without a public tender. Thus, The University Medical Centre Ljubljana bought 38 Maquet operating tables from Aico-Med and paid their price, which would now amount to four million euros. Suspicions, similar to those in the case of the overpaid vascular stents arose when it was quickly established that the operating tables had been bought for at least twice the price. The director-general of the University Medical Centre Primož Rode had to leave the position of leader of the largest Slovenian hospital, due to the affair.
Igor Jurij Pogačar and the SIB Bank affair
Igor Jurij Pogačar played one of the most important roles in the infamous SIB bank affair. At the beginning of the new millennium, he was the procurator of the Ljubljana public company Energetika. The then-Mayor Vika Potočnik, also a leading figure in the LDS party, resigned from the position of president of the Ljubljana LDS committee, due to the affair being revealed in public. Ljubljana’s taxpayers had to pay what would now be 14.6 million euros for the recapitalisation, and two years later, the NLB sold it for 1.7 million euros.
Ivan Vidic described the affair in detail in his book Misconception and Bankruptcy – Who was with whom in the SIB Affair. In his book, he also revealed all of the networks that participated in one of the first controversial banking affairs in independent Slovenia. In addition to the procurator Pogačar, the brokerage house Publikum was also involved in the disputed transaction. During the SIB affair, the investigating authorities suspected that Energetika, under the leadership of Pogačar, had decided to buy at several intervals, in order to artificially raise the prices of its shares. And with this, Pogačar allegedly managed to create an illegal benefit. In the case of Energetika, the Slovenian public learned about the 376 million tolars, and in the case of the brokerage house Publikum, about the 93 million tolars of illegal property gain. This difference in price was supposedly not made at the expense of Energetika.
In 2017, the prosecution closed the case of the controversial affair and acquitted Pogačar, allegedly unable to prove his abuse of office. As they said in the explanation for the termination of the prosecution, Pogačar was accused of insufficient diligence in business and wrong business decisions, which is not a crime. With this, the Slovenian judiciary swept another dirty story of the political left in Slovenia under the rug.
Nada Klemenčič and the Triglav Insurance Company
Nada Klemenčič was the president of the Management Board of the largest Slovenian insurance company, Triglav, for many years. She played an important role in the controversial SIB affair. Her husband Vlado Klemenčič was, among other things, the president of the Management Board of the SIB bank. Members of the management team of the Triglav insurance company, led by Klemenčič, sold their shares in the largest Slovenian insurance company to themselves. Then, in 2002, they partially sold the shares. They were bought by DU Triglav. The price supposedly reached 11 times the nominal original price or, according to some information, it even went up as much as 22 times.
After the affair was made public, Klemenčič was dismissed and received 54 million tolars in severance pay. At that time, she also remained the owner of her share that brought in millions in dividends. Despite several lawsuits, Nada Klemenčič always came out as the winner. Another proof that the highest representatives of the economic elite have always been protected for their business affairs in the hands of the transitional left.
The Orion affair: LDS rented cars from a fraudulent company
The Orion affair was revealed to the public in 2004. The Orion company violated Slovenian regulations, and there was a strong suspicion of tax evasion. The company was linked to the LDS party, which rented cars through it. Individuals paid extortionate interest on the loans. And there is more. The clients sold the real estate to Orion cheaply and then bought it back. Many also went to ruin in the meantime. The director of Orion was Branko Lužar, through other related other companies. In 2012, the Higher Court in Ljubljana ruled that Lužar was not guilty, as the court found that the borrowers knew what the gross amount of the loan meant – the amount they committed themselves to repay
The Pompe affair
The LDS party was also heavily involved in the Pompe affair. Four Maribor bankruptcy trustees lent money to the private company Pompe from Maribor, which came from the bankruptcy estate of the failed companies TAM, Aerodrom Maribor, Stavbenik Prevalje, Gradis GP Maribor, Štajerska pivovarna, and Tekstilna tovarna Tabor. In total, they lent Pompe more than 1.3 billion tolars. The bankruptcy trustees enriched the money with a private individual instead of in the banks, and in the end, the creditors reported receivables to the company Pompe in the amount of 5.8 billion tolars.
The Satex and NKBM affairs, and the 948 housing and consumer loans
The Satex affair began in 1996. According to Delo, Mladen Kerin, Štefan Poštrak and former notary, Tomislav Ajdič took out a total of 948 housing and consumer loans in the amount of more than 11 million euros from NKBM. All the money was supposed to be used for the operation of a company engaged in the production of bathroom equipment. In the first trial, the four men were only sentenced to four years and eight months in prison, but the Supreme Court overturned the first- and second-instance verdicts and returned the case to the beginning. In the retrial, the first instance court filed an acquittal. A few months later, the high court found that the prosecution was time-barred, Delo reported. These are just a few of the affairs that happened in the post-independence period, but they are far from being the only ones. Gregor Golobič was also the Minister of Higher Education, Science and Technology. He rose to this position as the president of the newly-formed Zares party, which, after the election fraud in 2008 called the big bang from Finland or Patria, joined the coalition at the time. After the big bang from Finland and under the auspices of Milan Kučan and Zoran Janković, the government was formed in autumn 2008 by the SD (Borut Pahor), LDS (Katarina Kresal), Zares (Gregor Golobič) and DeSUS (Karl Erjavec) parties. The government was led by Pahor.
Golobič’s ministerial post soon began to elude him, although they all held together until the infamous premature end. In June 2011, early elections were held. Golobič was always where the power and money were. Until April 2009, for example, he was even a member of the supervisory board of SID bank, which was owned by the state. His work also partially coincided with his work as the minister.
Ultra and the “million euros man”
Golobič was also closely associated with the company Ultra from Zagorje, so he was given the name “Ultra leader of Zares.” You could also call him something else. In June 2009, he admitted that he lied to the journalists when he denied that he has an ownership stake in the company Ultra. The connections went all the way to the Netherlands. Nevertheless, he remained in the position of minister, and his decision not to resign was also supported by the then-president Danilo Türk. Ultra also received unsecured loans from Nova Ljubljanska banka (NLB), and nothing happened to them. However, Golobič’s Ultra sued the then-journalists of RTV, Rajko Gerič, Matej Hlebš and Borut Janc, for reporting on these unsecured loans. Ultra lost the lawsuit.
Golobič was also closely connected with NLB and its leaders. At the time, NLB was led by Marjan Kramar, from Ultra’s Zasavje (Zagorje or Izlake), who, for the period from 2004 to 2007, received a scandalously high award for running the company. He became famous as the “million euros man.” When he said goodbye to the company, he received an award in the amount of one million euros.
After leaving the government, Golobič was expected to get a job at Ultra. At least that’s what certain media outlets reported. Golobič’s Ultra also worked with Mobitel and Telekom. The Swedish mobile giant Erikson made great efforts to gain control over the construction of the third UMTS mobile network in Slovenia. The affair was actually revealed abroad, where they wrote that the company Erikson allegedly transferred bribes to Swiss banks. The controversial deal aroused the interest of Slovenian deputies, who quickly connected the then-independent Mobitel with the state-owned Telekom, where Golobič’s chosen man, Peter Tevž, sat on the board. But even in this case, despite the allegations, absolutely nothing happened.
At the time, however, the MPs accused Telekom of wasteful sponsorships and contracts with external contractors. In 2003, Telekom signed, among other things, a monthly contract worth 500,000 tolars with lawyer Miro Senica. The latter supposedly also charged them extra for each additional service, 24ur reported.
The deputies also mentioned corrupt activities and the exploitation of political influence, as the company Ultra, in which Gregor Golobič was employed, mostly cooperated with state-owned or public companies and state institutions. They demanded that the prosecution review the connections of Golobič’s Ultra in doing business with state-owned companies, but this did not happen. And let’s not forget. Later, during Pahor’s government, Golobič was buried by the Ultra affair.
Many affairs, but most of them without judicial epilogues
Thus, the cases of drawing huge financial resources from the LB banking group, the Primex case, Hypoco in Brežice, the damage that was caused to more than 400 people in the Cardo case, Metalka Commerce, Ona On, Optimism, the bankruptcies of many savings banks, Slovin, Tam, the Housing Fund, Videm Krško, the purchase of a police boat, and many more, were left without an epilogue in court or even without investigation. Very few individuals in any of the cases listed above, which happened during the LDS rule, have been convicted and sent to prison, as all of these first-class citizens were protected by the deep state. However, the experts warn that new political parties and their so-called instant frontmen who must serve the deep state are still being formed with the illegal money that has been obtained. An example of this is Cerar’s SMC, and later Šarec’s LMŠ, which employed many well-known and lesser-known names of the transitional left in the state-owned companies.
To conclude. The Croatian journalist Domagoj Margetić wrote that after Tito’s death, the Slovenian communist network stole between 55 and 70 billion euros for its operation in Slovenia. And after gaining our independence, we have lost 75 billion euros to tax havens. Is there anything left to add?