Corporate news 1.4.2021 18:38

UKOM says STA director concealing documentation

Ljubljana, 1 April - The Government Communication Office (UKOM) said the director of the Slovenian Press Agency (STA) was "concealing documentation" as it responded to an appeal by the STA supervisory board that the government resume public service payments to the agency as demanded by law.

UKOM has been demanding documentation from the STA concerning the performance of its public service, but the STA has insisted UKOM does not have the power to demand that given that the government exercises shareholder rights and is thus the only one entitled to such documents.

In a statement on Thursday, UKOM said STA director Bojan Veselinovič had never wondered whether UKOM had been authorised by the government when it signed the annual public service contract, in which it was clearly defined as the "representative of the founder".

It also said that in recently dismissing criminal complaints filed by both sides, the prosecution had clearly said that explicit authorisation from the government is not required. And in any event, the director has had five months to send all the requested documentation to the government.

It is becoming increasingly clear why Veselinovič is "concealing documentation from the government - and from some supervisors - in all possible ways," UKOM said, alleging that there were contracts damaging to the STA and that the STA was engaging in "creative accounting" when it came to distinguishing between its public service and commercial activities.

UKOM said the purpose of the director, and some of the supervisors, was to shut down the agency before its 30th anniversary, "which is unacceptable and which is why the government has recently adopted resolutions to prevent the damage that might be incurred".

The government proposed last month that the supervisory board dismiss Veselinovič. The supervisory board said this week it would be able to debate that once it gets formal notification from the government. It also said the government could access the requested documents at any time as the sole shareholder of the STA.

Veselinovič responded today to UKOM's statement by stressing the STA had never claimed the contract on public service was unlawful. "Its lawfulness has been called into question by the UKOM director, who also filed a criminal complaint against the STA director and four STA supervisors, which the prosecutor rejected."

As for UKOM's allegation of "creative accounting", Veselinovič said the agency consistently respected the principle of financial transparency and kept separate accounts for its public and commercial services.

He reiterated the STA had asked UKOM to prepare a public service contract for 2021 at the end of December, adding the agency was being destroyed just before its 30th anniversary by "those who are pushing a respected media outlet into an abyss by financial draining".