An inquiry launched by the Slovenian parliament into suspected unlawful financing of "party propaganda in the media" has shed light on a complex network of bypass accounts associated with the main opposition Slovenian Democratic Party (SDS), led by former prime minister Janez Jansa.
The interim report on the alleged illegal funding of political parties was discussed by the parliamentary investigative commission in a closed session on November 7.
The investigative commission's report highlights that the majority of SDS activities have been funded through a network of bypass accounts, which serve as a parallel financial mechanism. It also revealed funding channeled from Hungary.
“It is a kind of parallel financial mechanism of one of the key political parties in Slovenia, in which party functionaries at all levels or party sympathisers who pursue both their political and above all their personal financial interests participate," president of the commission, Mojca Setinc Pasek was cited by broadcaster RTV SLO.
She emphasised that, concurrently, "the key party account remains untainted and secure" as all crucial transactions for SDS's major political endeavours, advertising campaigns, and self-generated media election campaigns pass through this parallel mechanism.
She noted that a significant portion of these transactions also occurs in cash. The commission also suspects that the SDS bypass financing network involves additional companies.
The investigative commission extended its scrutiny to several companies suspected of being instrumental in facilitating unlawful financing. Among them are NovaTV24.si, Nova hisa, Nova obzorja and Geopolar Zascite.
One of the most striking aspects of the inquiry's findings is the involvement of Hungarian capital in the SDS' financing model.
The report reveals that Hungarian funds are funneled into Slovenia through two companies, R-post and R-post-R zaloznistvo. The former, founded in Hungary and part of the Hungarian KESMA system, acts as a conduit for capital flow, ultimately benefitting the SDS.
The report further reveals that a substantial amount of money, approximately €14mn, entered Slovenia through the system, with financial leverage in Hungary for the companies NovaTV24.si and Nova obzorja.
An additional sum of around €4mn passed through Slovenia, ultimately making its way to North Macedonia, indicating a potentially larger network of financial flows with regional implications.
The source of the funding from within Hungary was not revealed, however, SDS leader Jansa has close ties with Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, who is also a linked to the former leader of North Macedonia’s opposition VMRO-DPMNE party. A longstanding former prime minister of North Macedonia, ex-VMRO-DPMNE leader Nikola Gruevski fled to Hungary to avoid serving a prison term, where he sought asylum.
In 2020, it was revealed that Hungarian owned media had also become more present in Slovenia and North Macedonia. The Hungarian expansion started in 2017, when three Hungarian companies – Ridikul, Ripost and Modern Media Group – purchased Slovenia’s Nova24TV. Nova24TV is also co-owned by members of the SDS.