By: Domen Mezeg / Nova24tv
During the last pre-election debate, which was held on the 13th of October at the national media outlet Radio-Television Slovenia (RTV), the presidential candidate Milan Brglez continuously claimed that the minutes of the Slovenian Chess Federation do not exist, and that the sponsorship contract did not make sponsorship conditional on his being elected as the head of the Chess Federation. Brglez has thus grossly misled the entire Slovenian public. And by the way, the Slovenian Chess Federation has still not provided us with the minutes of the meeting at which Brglez made the sponsorship money conditional on his election.
In a pre-election debate held on the 13th of October at the public media outlet Radio-Television Slovenia, the joint candidate of the Freedom Movement party (Gibanje Svoboda) and the Social Democrats (Socialni demokrati – SD), Milan Brglez, angrily reacted to the accusations that the 200 thousand euro sponsorship contract of Slovenian Railways was conditional on the election of the proposed leadership, which included him as the candidate for the Head of the Chess Federation. Brglez refused to admit that “there is any document or paper showing that he linked his election to the contract” and claimed that “there is no record of what is being said on the show tonight.” He also claimed that “the minutes of the 44th Regular General Assembly of the Slovenian Chess Federation of the 30th of March 2019 do not mention anywhere the sponsorship being conditional on his election,” the MMC web portal reports.
However, the facts prove otherwise: at the Regular General Assembly that happened on the 30th of March 2019, the delegates of the Slovenian Chess Federation elected the new leadership, meaning the Management Board and the President of the Federation. Two candidates were nominated for the post of President: one, a transitional politician from the Social Democrats’ party – Milan Brglez, and the other, a financial expert – Sašo Čačič. The minutes show that the latter decided to run mainly because, in his opinion, Brglez was not suitable for the position of President of the Slovenian Chess Federation as a politician. The SD party politician in question was a candidate proposed by the Management Board, which also included Mirko Bandelj – the former Secretary-General of the Liberal Democracy of Slovenia party’s government (Liberalna demokracija Slovenije – LDS). Bandelj was also chairing the General Assembly at which the new leadership was elected.
There, he said: “the sponsors are tied to the election of the leadership following a proposal by the Management board.” This is the sentence which, according to Brglez’s official belief, is not even in the minutes! Moreover, the sponsorship agreement also specifies that it is to be concluded early, “subject to the condition precedent that the General Assembly of the sponsored organisation elects new management (President and Management Board), of which the sponsor’s representative will also be a member, at its meeting on the 30th of March 2019, and based on the proposal of the current Management Board.” The selection of the chosen Management Board and of Brglez to lead the Chess Federation is thus the condition upon which the sponsorship contract is based. Even though Brglez is not mentioned by name anywhere, it is clear from the circumstances that he is the one they are referring to. He was the only candidate proposed by the aforementioned Management Board to become the new President. It is true that Brglez was not involved in signing the contract (as he claims), but the fact is that the contract was already based on the condition of his being elected.
Are the state-owned Slovenian Railways just the Social Democrats party’s treasury?
It is common for sponsors to appoint a member of the management board of the sponsored party. In the case of the Chess Federation, the contract stipulates that not only does a representative of the sponsor have to be appointed, but that the entire leadership of the Federation has to be elected. The key question here is whether this was a political distribution of public funds. In the case of the sponsorship contract of Slovenian Railways, which is wholly owned by the state, was this a distribution of state funds in accordance with political preferences? Keep in mind that the Social Democrats have an enormous influence on Slovenian Railways. Miha Butara from the party in question is also employed in this state-owned company as the Assistant Director-General. The contract in question between the state-owned company and the Chess Federation was also scrutinised by the Commission for the Prevention of Corruption (Komisija za preprečevanje korupcije – KPK), which subsequently referred the case to the police, but no irregularities were found.