Internal audit finds major irregularities in motorway police

Ljubljana – The newspaper Dnevnik reported that an internal audit in the police has revealed major irregularities in contracts concluded by the Motorway Police Administration, including with the national motorway operator DARS. The document has been forwarded to the corruption watchdog, which has found grounds for suspected criminal acts.

In the report, the auditor has noted a series of irregularities and questioned the admissibility of an agreement with DARS on such a large scale, Gregor Novak of the Secretariat of the Interior Ministry told the press on Monday.

He confirmed that the contract had been referred to the Commission for the Prevention of Corruption (KPK), Budget Supervision Office and the State Attorney’s Office.

Novak noted that all three institutions had come to conclusions similar to that of the auditor, and that the KPK had already referred the matter to the Specialised State Prosecutor’s Office.

He added that some parts of the contract imply suspicion of criminal acts, and that the Interior Ministry had suspended the drawing of funds based on the contract.

In principle, the contract with DARS is no longer possible, but no final decision in this regard has been taken yet, Novak said.

What is disputable in the contract are certain donations that, according to him, are not donations in their content, and the police also financed certain rental services of DARS that are not sufficiently specified.

The Interior Ministry said in a statement for the STA in the afternoon that the contract between the police and DARS intertwined their activities, creating suspicion about independence and quality of police jurisdiction in relation to DARS.

The contract will be changed so as to abolish any doubt about the legality of the relationship between the police and DARS.

DARS meanwhile told the STA that it had not seen the audit report and could not comment. It did say, however, that under the contract DARS co-funded the equipment needed by the motorway police to oversee motorway traffic.

DARS listed vehicles, speed control equipment and weight control equipment as being co-funded. It also leases to police parts of premises of former tolling stations and maintenance bases.

In the long term, co-funding the motorway police will yield more than the original investment, DARS said, illustrating that the number of car crashes on the Ljubljana bypass, the busiest segment of the country’s motorway network, had dropped by a third in the past year over a similar period before the coronavirus pandemic.

This in turn means fewer bottlenecks and better safety. Moreover, the number of too heavy vehicles has also decreased, meaning less damage to the roads, said DARS.

Dnevnik reported today that the main targets of the audit are Motorway Police Administration director Andrej Jurič and two other police employees.

Interior Minister Tatjana Bobnar has confirmed for the 24ur.com news portal that the KPK had found grounds to suspect criminal acts related to damage to property, and acting Police Commissioner Boštjan Lindav also noted that the audit had shown major irregularities.

Lindav said that a lot of high-ranking jobs had been created with the establishment of the Motorway Police Administration by the previous government last year, and that a lot of additional administrative jobs had been filled.

On the other hand, the number of police officers on the ground has not increased, as they were only reassigned from their previous units, he added.

Bobnar assessed that this was “additional stockpiling of jobs in administration”, adding that she thus supported Lindav’s decision to establish a task force to examine possible organisational solutions for effective traffic control on motorways and expressways.

The news about the audit comes as staff from the highway patrol units in Koper, Celje and Maribor were today assigned back to their previous, ordinary road traffic police stations.

The General Police Administration said that the move was due to severe staff shortages, and has left only one motorway police unit – in Ljubljana – operational.

DARS expressed regret today that the motorway police units had been dissolved, saying they significantly contributed to road safety.