Inquiry into SDS financing gets no answer from witnesses

Ljubljana – Rok Snežič, a tax adviser with alleged links to Prime Minister Janez Janša, would not answer questions as he appeared before the parliamentary inquiry into alleged unlawful financing of Janša’s Democratic Party (SDS) on Thursday. Nor did his wife Klavdija Snežič, formerly the largest shareholder of Nova24TV.

Rok Snežič told the inquiry from the outset that he would either decline to answer questions or respond by saying he did not remember, and then went on to explain he was not a public office holder and was not obliged to answer to the inquiry as it was not a court.

He would neither confirm nor deny his socialising with Janša on the ground that he did not remember. He said he was not under obligation to explain his relationship with his acquaintances or friends when asked about his links to Dijana Đuđić and other persons allegedly involved in contentious financial transactions.

Snežič served a sentence for tax evasion in the past, at the same prison that Janša was incarcerated in prior to the 2014 election before his sentence in the Patria defence bribery cases was quashed by the Constitutional Court.

Asked about Klemen Nicoletti, an owner of Majbert Pharm, the company picked by the state in late 2020 to supply roughly EUR 1 million worth of rapid tests for mass coronavirus screening, Snežič said he had nothing to do with “Instagram boys” and could not be their friend as he did not have an Instagram account.

He also claimed not remembering when asked about his advertising agency’s dealings with the state-owned companies HSE, TEŠ and Pošta Slovenije.

He said he had been nicknamed tax evasion doctor because such was the subject of his doctoral thesis. He repeatedly urged the inquiry to present material evidence on his alleged business dealings.

Klavdija Snežič, who was accompanied by her legal counsel, invoked a provision allowing witnesses in parliamentary inquiry to decline answering questions if that could harm them or their relatives.

MPs inquired about her role as a former largest shareholder of Nova24TV, a media outlet with ties to the SDS. Jani Möderndorfer, an MP for the Marjan Šarec List (LMŠ), said she borrowed the money to buy the shares in cash from entrepreneurs Dražen Kuča.

The latter has failed for the third time to respond to an invitation for an interview, thus Möderndorfer proposed he be subpoenaed, which was endorsed.

Damjan Damjanovič, a former director of Nova24tv, also failed to appear for the interview, citing poor health.

The inquiry is looking into alleged money laundering at the NKBM bank by foreign citizens and their affiliates and alleged illegal financing of the SDS and suspected dealings of media publishers owned by the party prior to the 2018 election.