The Slovenia Times

NBI boss confirms charges filed over Covid emergency procurement


Ljubljana - Petra Grah Lazar, director of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), has confirmed for the news portal Siol that the bureau has referred to the prosecution a criminal complaint in an abuse of office investigation into the purchases of personal protective equipment and ventilators during the early stages of the Covid-19 epidemic.

Grah Lazar cited data privacy in telling the portal she could not comment on media reports that one of the persons facing charges was Zdravko Počivalšek, the outgoing minister of economic development and technology.

She said the NBI had submitted the complaint in the case with the prosecution office which deals with the toughest forms of crime last Wednesday.

She denied the allegation that the investigation had taken too long. "This was not the case of an investigation taking an unreasonable amount of time or where nothing happens in a particular investigation. In this case, we kept the Specialised Public Prosecution Office up to date with activities, and the activities were never interrupted."

The draft closing act had been prepared late last year, but then information needed to be collected from "one key person", which was done in March.

Grah Lazar said she did not approve of shortcuts when it came to constitutionally guaranteed rights. "Police must act lawfully and suspects also have their rights. Everyone needs to get equal treatment," she said.

Due to changes to the criminal procedure act, the NBI asked the prosecution in February to examine compatibility of the attachments. Those run to about 60 pages and the criminal complaint to more than a hundred. The NBI had to make adjustments following the prosecution's guidance.

The news portal reported earlier this week that the NBI had drawn up a criminal complaint against Počivalšek on suspicion of abuse of office in procurement of emergency medical supplies months ago.

Unofficially, two other persons face charges of complicity to abuse of office; Marko Bitenc as CEO of a supplier of medical ventilators and the minister's staffer Andreja Potočnik. The ministry told the STA Potočnik was not employed at the ministry.

According to, the minister had allegedly allowed the supplier to make EUR 1.7 million in unlawful gains as a difference between the sales and purchase prices of 90 ventilators; the company MD-DX, previously Geneplanet Diagnostika, only supplied 90 out of the 220 ordered.

Počivalšek and Potočnik are also alleged to have secured the company a better position and terms than other suppliers in the case of the advance payment and the amount of the bank guarantee required.


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