Matt Atlas

Police Raid Penta Investments, Arrest Jaroslav Hascak

Slovak police detained and accused Jaroslav Haščák, the co-owner of the Czech-Slovak financial group Penta Investments, of corruption and money laundering. Dozens of police officers also launched a large-scale raid in the afternoon at Penta’s headquarters in Bratislava. The case is probably related to the leakage of recordings from wiretaps in the as yet unexplored corruption case called Gorilla, which concerns suspicions of bribery of high-ranking politicians and officials in Slovakia by Penta in 2005 and 2006. The police have not yet commented on the information. Slovak Interior Minister Roman Mikulec said he had no further details about the police’s action. Penta considers the accusations unfounded.

In addition to one of the wealthiest Slovaks, Haščák, the police also accused the former director of counterintelligence of the Slovak Civil Secret Service (SIS), Ľubomír Arpáš, and his wife. They also worked for the secret service in the past. wrote that Arpáš took wiretap recordings from the SIS, in which Haščák met with politicians and officials and where bribes were discussed. It is said that Arpáš sold the recordings to Haščák so that Arpáš and his wife founded a company that received 194,000 euros (five million crowns) from one of Haščák’s companies for fictitious analyzes and consulting services. In the past, Arpáš claimed that he handed over information and analyses to the StB secret police’s former head in communist Czechoslovakia, Alojz Lorenc, who worked with Penta.

Slovak media reported that police officers were brought to Haščák to the Penta building in the afternoon. According to published photographs, Haščák had no handcuffs on his hands. Earlier, police officers armed with submachine guns entered the headquarters of the financial group.

A recording of about 39 hours from wiretaps in the Gorilla affair leaked to the Slovak media last year. In 2018, it was seized by the Slovak police during house searches of the prosecuted businessman Marian Kočner.

The Gorilla corruption affair broke out at the end of 2011, when documents called Gorila were leaked on the Internet, which, according to unconfirmed information, were prepared by the SIS based on wiretaps from an apartment in Bratislava. The case concerns suspicions of bribery of politicians and senior officials by Penta in exchange for its influence on privatization and some companies’ operation. Penta denies the wrongdoing in the case from the beginning.

The investigation of the Gorilla affair was overseen by special prosecutor Dušan Kováčik, whom the police accused in November this year of corruption, abuse of power and other crimes, according to available information, and the court sent him into custody. For example, the investigation team’s former head complained that Kováčik did not approve some planned actions.

The Czech-Slovak financial group Penta Investments confirmed the police intervention at its headquarters in Bratislava and information that its co-owner Jaroslav Haščák had been charged. In a press release, Penta described the allegations as “unfounded and disproportionate” and criticized the police intervention as “a disproportionate and unfounded demonstration of force.”