Bratislava, September 23 (TASR) – Interior Minister Robert Kalinak (Smer-SD) – as well as Prime Minister Rober Fico earlier this day – survived an Opposition motion for his dismissal over the Basternak tax fraud case, as only 40 MPs out of the 120 present in Parliament voted for his dismissal, TASR learnt on Friday.
This was the second unsuccessful attempt of the Opposition to oust the interior minister – the first one took place on June 7.
At least 76 votes were needed in order to remove Kalinak from his post. All the Opposition MPs present voted for his ouster, while almost all coalition MPs in the chamber were against. Only Stefan Zenik (Slovak Natioanl Party/SNS) abstained from the vote.
Among other things, the Opposition is reproaching Kalinak of having had a direct business relation with the entrepreneur Ladislav Basternak. “In October 2013, he [Kalinak] bought from him [Basternak] a 17-percent stake in a company called B.A. Haus for €430,000. This company owns several lucrative properties worth more than six million euros, according to real estate experts. Kalinak’s 17-percent stake in this company would then have a real value of not €430,000, but almost one million,” stated the Opposition, claiming that the interior minister bought the stake in the abovementioned company for an unreasonably low price.
The Opposition also pointed out that Kalinak bought the stake from Basternak at a time when the latter was being investigated by the National Crime Agency (NAKA) over major tax frauds. And Kalinak knew about that.
Prime Minister Robert Fico in June said that the Opposition-sponsored no-confidence motion in Kalinak is viewed by the Government as an attempt to give Slovakia a bad name during its Presidency of the EU Council.
“Interior Minister Robert Kalinak from his post supports fight against tax frauds, while a Tax Cobra was set up, saving almost €90 million for the state on unpaid VAT allowances,” Fico told Parliament. He further pointed out that a new Public Procurement Act was adopted under Kalinak’s remit, apart from launching the Electronic Marketplace. The latter feature has saved €85 million in 18 months.
Fico also added that Kalinak has already refuted all Opposition claims on his links to alleged tax frauds of Basternak. At the same time, Fico accused the Opposition of fear mongering.