The Slovenia Times

PM becomes owner of company in divorce procedure

Prime Minister Robert Golob. Photo: Boštjan Podlogar/STA

Prime Minister Robert Golob has become the owner of a company registered for the production of solar power as part of the division of assets with his former wife, according to a filing he made with the anti-graft watchdog. Based on a complaint the watchdog will test whether there may be reason to suspect potential breach.

The company, called Star Solar and previously owned by Golob's ex-wife, had revenue of over €250,000 in 2022, the latest year for which data are publicly available, and nearly €100,000 in net profit, with liabilities standing at nearly €700,000.

Golob, who served as CEO of state-owned energy trader GEN-I for 15 years before deciding to stand in the 2022 election, is now officially listed as the founder and sole owner of Star Solar, while his daughter is listed as director.

Between 2014 and 2023 the company received roughly €2.1 million from Borzen, the national electricity market operator. The company has been included in the support scheme for renewable energy producers since 2012 after financial incentives for such companies were introduced with a law in 2008.

"On this basis, Borzen pays operating subsidies for four production installations based on net electricity output. The support scheme is implemented based on a public call that is open to all interested holders of generating installations, subject to conditions known in advance and published publicly," the prime minister's office said.

Officials may own companies

The Integrity and the Prevention of Corruption Act does not prohibit office holders from owning equity, but limitations do apply to such companies doing business with the state.

This can be either an absolute ban on doing business, for example, when the authority is not allowed to procure goods or services for the company concerned, the Commission for the Prevention of Corruption explained.

It may also be a conditional permission to do business, for example, when the company is allowed to participate in public calls subject to the Integrity Act and other legislation, or on the condition that the official concerned strictly exclude themselves from all decision-making phases of the procedure.

The Commission for the Prevention of Corruption said that in the case of Golob and Star Solar restrictions applied to transactions with the government "but not with other public sector entities such as ministries, the National Assembly, municipalities".

The watchdog did however receive a complaint regarding this matter on 5 January, and will conduct a preliminary test. Only if it were to find ground for suspicion of a breach would it then open an investigation.

The PM's office noted that conflict of interest restrictions on Star Solar had applied ever since Golob was elected MP in April 2022 due to his former wife being the owner before that. They say the restrictions had not changed with the change of ownership.

Golob under investigation in another matter

In November, the watchdog opened an investigation against Golob based on a complaint filed almost a year earlier by former Interior Minister Tatjana Bobnar, who alleges that she was subjected to undue political pressure which ultimately led to her resignation in December 2022.

The watchdog used to be very powerful. In 2013 the centre-right government of Janez Janša was forced out after just a year in office as his coalition fell apart after the commission found Janša was unable to account for part of his assets.

The commission found the same for Ljubljana Mayor Zoran Janković, whose party splintered because he would not resign as leader with Alenka Bratušek becoming the leader of a party that split off and ultimately taking over as prime minister in place of Janša.

Some analysts and even Janša himself have suggested the investigation could spell the end for Golob as prime minister. As the commission confirmed it was investigating Golob, Janša commented it meant the prime minister was being ousted, but said the investigation was warranted.


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