Vizjak under scrutiny for buying Petrol shares

The Securities Market Agency has introduced oversight because of suspicion of abuse of internal information, or insider trading, but would not reveal any details.

Vizjak has bought 415 Petrol shares since March, the bulk at the end of May, for a total of EUR 120,000, the Finance paper reported in early September.

To finance the purchase, prior to which he already had over 80 Petrol shares, Vizjak took out a loan, the business newspaper also reported.

"Given that their stock market price plummeted during the epidemic, I bought the Petrol shares because I saw an opportunity for a good investment," he explained earlier this month.

A day after the government's decision to liberalise fuel prices, Petrol was the busiest share on the Ljubljana Stock Exchange today, up 6.31% to close at 320 euro.

It accounted for nearly 639,000 euro in deals, which is almost half of the daily turnover.

Finance reported that Vizjak's move was today reported to the corruption watchdog – the Commission for the Prevention of Corruption.

Vizjak meanwhile told the newspaper Večer today that he had purchased the first Petrol shares already 25 years ago, because he considered Petrol a promising company.

He reiterated the Petrol price on the stock market in spring was relatively low and at the time "nobody was taking about fuel market liberalisation yet".

The minister also said he had not been involved in the government's liberalisation of the fuel market.

"The documents were prepared by the Economy Ministry, and the Finance Ministry also took part. I was not involved. I find it unacceptable to be dragged into this story," he said indicating at a media fabrication.

Vizjak, who was also the subject of criticism for buying Telekom Slovenije shares as labour minister in 2012 when the then Janez Janša government was deciding on a potential sale of the telco and on dividend payouts, further explained for the press today during a working visit to Hrastnik that he had earned nothing through the acquisition.

"I haven't sold the shares, they are a long-term investment. When I sell them, we can start talking about whether I earned something," he said.

Vizjak, who also argued that expecting deregulation would lead to higher prices was a speculation, added that he was regularly buying promising shares of Slovenian companies and was looking forward to the Securities Market Agency procedure. He is ready to accept responsibility if any irregularities are established.