The Slovenia Times

Patria Bribed SDS to Get Defence Deal?


The indictment against the five suspects was filed in June, the most important players among them being arms dealer Wolfgang Riedl and Walter Wolf, a Canadian businessman of Slovenian and Austrian descent.

The prosecution believes that Riedl bribed the SDS to secure for Patria the deal of supplying 135 armoured personnel carriers (APCs) to the Slovenian MOD.

While Wolf is accused only of participating in a criminal ring, the list of accusations against Riedl is much longer, including tax evasion, industrial espionage the leadership in a criminal ring and of bribery.

The prosecution suspects that Riedl personally carried EUR 900,000 in cash to Slovenia and handed it over to Joze Zagozen, a member of the SDS.

According to the indictment, Patria transferred in February 2007 EUR 3.6m to Riedl. The next day, Riedl transferred a part of the sum to his business partner Wolf. The bank suspected that the transfers might be related to money laundering and reported the moves to the police, launching an investigation.

When Riedl and Wolf wanted to withdraw the money from the bank, the bank refused to pay it out. Therefore, Wolf transferred EUR 2.3m he received from Riedl back to him.

Unaware of the police investigation, the pair continued the money transfers. From EUR 2.3m he received back from Wolf, Riedl withdrew EUR 300,000, giving EUR 100,000 to Wolf and keeping EUR 200,000 for Thai business partner Apichat Sirithaporn.

EUR 2m went to Wolf's company ICB located in Lichtenstein. The company then transferred EUR 700,000 to an Austrian account of Apichat. But the money was not withdrawn from the bank by Apichat - he authorised Riedl to get it.

Riedl told the investigators that he met Apichat at the Vienna airport on 13 February 2007 handing over to him EUR 900,000. However, Apichat rejected this statement, leading the prosecution to believe the sum was in fact delivered to Zagozen.

The prosecution believes that Riedl personally handed the EUR 900,000 to Zagozen, who rejected this suspicion for TV Slovenija, saying Riedl never promised or handed to him any money.

Zagozen moreover claims that he was in Australia at the time when the money is suspected to have changed hands. Riedl denied meeting Zagozen on 15 February, claiming he never offered or gave any money to him.

Meanwhile, the SDS responded to the report, saying that nobody from the party was authorised to communicate with Patria and that the party was never involved in the deal.

The press release posted on the SDS website points the finger at the Liberal Democrats (LDS), which led the government before the SDS. The party says that the then LDS leader Anton Rop sold his share in Sistemska tehnika, Patria's Slovenian partner in the supply of the APCs, to Viator Vektor, a company of his party colleague Zdenko Pavcek.

What is more, the press release says that the Defence Ministry, led by the LDS, signed a letter of intent the same year with Sistemska tehnika regarding the purchase of APCs.

The SDS said that anybody who received a bribe in this deal should be put on trial and that if anybody said they acted on the behalf of the SDS, they should be held responsible for misrepresentation.

The party added that the Finnish investigators uncovered a PowerPoint presentation indicating that Patria was indeed considering ways how to get to the SDS and its leader and the then PM Janez Jansa. But the same presentation also states that the then President Janez Drnovsek and the preceding PM Rop were already "covered" by lobbyist Jure Cekuta.


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