Lobbyist Dimnik says meetings with Janša “accidental”

Ljubljana – Božo Dimnik, a lobbyist whose meetings with Prime Minister Janez Janša have been the subject of media scrutiny in recent days, has denied ever talking business with Janša, describing their meetings as “accidental”.

“These were far from lobbying contacts, they were accidental meetings,” Dimnik told Kanal A on Wednesday, adding that they never discussed business and that lobbying with a representative of the government would be “disrespectful”.

The statement comes after POP TV released photos showing Dimnik and Janša playing golf on the island of Mauritius, reportedly in 2003.

Dimnik said he has been holidaying in Mauritius for forty years and had met Janša at the hotel reception.

A more recent report showed Dimnik on a yacht owned by the businessmen Andrej Marčič, reportedly in 2016. Another report showed Dimnik visiting Janša at home at an unknown date.

Dimnik said both meetings were “accidental”, adding that they did not involve the planning or conclusion of any transactions.

Dimnik is a prominent lobbyist and his daughter owns a major supplier of medical equipment that has done millions of euros worth of business with public hospitals.

He told Kanal A that his daughter’s company had won all the deals in public tenders.

Janša’s and Dimnik’s 2003 meeting in Mauritius has already been investigated by the Corruption Prevention Commission, which did not find any irregularities with respect of the duty of public officials to report lobbying contacts, but the commission only checked his contacts ten years back.

A commission spokeswoman told Kanal A that the watchdog had now initiated a new preliminary inquiry based on the new facts. If they detect any irregularities, they will launch a full investigation.

Janša’s lobbying contracts will also be the subject of a debate by the parliamentary Commission for Oversight of Public Finances, which continues on Thursday after Janša did not show up for the first session. It is unclear whether Janša will attend this time.