Bratislava, April 20 (TASR) – The district prosecutor’s office in Ziar nad Hronom (Banska Bystrica region) instructed the police in early April to press criminal charges over the suspected misconduct in a public office in regard to the Central Mining Office’s (HBU) failure to impose a penalty on an organisation for exceeding mining limits in 2015, TASR learnt on Thursday.
On February 24, 2017, the Regional Prosecutor’s Office in Banska Bystrica launched action in the same case, challenging HBU’s decision from August 6, 2015, to halt proceedings on imposing a fine against a company called EUROVIA – Kamenolomy, which held a mining permit for the Hradova quarry (Kosice region).
“The decision in question violated a number of legal provisions from the Mining Activities and Explosives Act, the Mining Administration Act, the Protection and Use of Mineral Resources Act, the Mining Act and the Administrative Proceedings Act,” TASR has been told by Banska Bystrica Regional Prosecutor’s Office spokesman Ivan Vozar.
HBU received a complaint from the Regional Prosecutor’s Office in March, but it isn’t planning to fully comply with it. According to a statement by the office of HBU chair Peter Kukelcik, HBU’s disagreement with the prosecutor’s legal opinion has prompted it to turn to the Economy Ministry, which represents a superior authority. Ministry spokesman Maros Stano has told TASR that the ministry has been dealing with HBU’s request since late March and will make a decision within the prescribed period of one month after receiving it.
The Prosecutor’s Office took action based on a complaint from a former HBU mining security department head who was tasked with managing the fine procedures in 2014-15.
According to TASR’s information, the company in question declared that it would mine an amount of resources that would not warrant an Environmental Impact Assessment. In reality, the company exceeded the limit many times over, thus violating the regulations. Despite these missteps being documented accordingly, HBU chair Peter Kukelcik decided to terminate proceedings, thus sparing the company a fine.
A similar case in which a fine for overstepping mining caps wasn’t initially imposed also emerged at the Prievidza District Mining Office (Trencin region). However, after the District Prosecutor’s Office in Trencin lodged a complaint, HBU eventually moved to impose the fine. Nevertheless, the issue is also being looked into by the police over suspicions of misconduct in a public office.