Bratislava, March 29 (CTK) – Controversial real estate magnate Ladislav Basternak, whose business partner was Smer-Social Democracy deputy chairman and former interior Slovak minister Robert Kalinak, has been charged with tax fraud, the General Prosecution announced today.
Basternak is suspected for unlawfully demanding value-added tax refunds of nearly two million euros in real estate business. His firm received the VAT refunds.
Slovak media wrote that Basternak wanted to avoid prosecution by returning the whole sum to the state, but the Constitutional Court ruled that such a step does not free people of the guilt in extensive tax frauds.
According to available information, Basternak’s firm declared that it bought seven flats for extraordinary high prices and it then sold these flats for much lower prices. Basternak claimed he paid 12 million euros in cash for the flats.
The police first rejected the complaint against Basternak. A new investigation was launched in 2016 after media brought the case to the limelight.
Two years ago, it turned out that Kalinak did business with Basternak. Kalinak later admitted that he bought a stake in Basternak’s firm in 2013 and that he received money from the firm.
Smer-SD leader Robert Fico, who was prime minister until recently, rented a luxurious flat in Bratislava from Basternak. Fico said previously he would leave the flat if Basternak is charged.
In the past two years, several demonstrations calling for Kalinak’s resignation and Basternak’s punishment were held in Bratislava.
Fico and Kalinak stepped down in March within a government crisis that developed in the wake of the murder of a journalist who wrote about suspected links between ruling parties, dubious businesspeople and the mafia. Big rallies were held in many Slovak towns earlier this month, calling for early elections. Fico’s party and its two junior partners eventually formed a new cabinet.