Ljubljana related

09 May 2022, 14:59 PM

STA, 9 May 2022 - Zoran Janković has declared his intention to stand for his fifth straight term as mayor of Slovenia's capital in the autumn local elections. "It's nice to be Ljubljana mayor," he said on Monday.

Janković has served as Ljubljana mayor since 2006, winning every election since with an outright majority, including after a brief foray into politics at the national level in 2011 when his party Positive Slovenia won a plurality in the general election but Janković failed to form a government.

The 69-year-old mayor announced his renewed bid at Monday's City Council session marking Ljubljana Day in memory of the city's liberation in World War II. He praised his team and listed the projects implemented and planned by his administration, noting the importance of cooperation with the national government.

Listing the challenges ahead, including an energy crisis and a potential food crisis. "We must be prepared for all that, that's why I'm looking forward to our next government to be led by Robert Golob," he said, describing the prospective PM as one of Europe's biggest energy experts.

Janković, who used to be Golob's party boss, commented on the 24 April general election by saying that Slovenians said a no to PM Janez Janša and his divisive politics, disrespect for the rule of law and attacks on free media.

23 Feb 2022, 11:11 AM

STA, 22 February 2022 - Ljubljana Mayor Zoran Janković has taken issue with the ruling Democrats (SDS) noting in a series of posts about its achievements that Ljubljana has been assessed as the safest city in Europe, saying that he does not know what SDS president and PM Janez Janša has to do with it.

Addressing the press on Tuesday, Janković said that he was happy that Janša "finally realised that Ljubljana is the most beautiful city in the world", but that he did not know what Janša had to do with it.

The statement refers to the Slovenian capital being named at the beginning of the month as the best destination in Europe in 2022 as part of the European Best Destinations project.

"This is how travellers from all over the world voted," the Ljubljana Urban Municipality said on its website, noting that as many as 92% of all votes intended for Ljubljana had come from other countries.

On that occasion, the SDS published a picture of the Triple Bridge in Ljubljana on Instagram, accompanied with the visual identity that the party uses on pre-election posters and a slogan.

Under the post, the SDS said: "More than half a million travellers from 182 countries voted for the best and safest European destinations in 2022. Our beautiful Ljubljana is in the first place!"

Janković took exception to this, wondering how the SDS could even imagine taking credit for Ljubljana being declared the safest city.

He noted the role of the ruling party in fencing off the parliament building during anti-government protests and using tear gas and water cannon on people, also in Tivoli Park.

Janković said that "Janša is afraid of the election, as he has no better ideas than copying the ideas of the Ljubljana municipality", in reference to the SDS allegedly appropriating a slogan six years ago.

He noted that when he had taken office as mayor during the first Janša government, Ljubljana had been stripped of EUR 57 million in budget funds a year, or EUR 800 million in the 15 years of his mayorship. "But the election will show the true result."

11 Jan 2022, 15:36 PM

STA, 11 January 2022 - Ljubljana Mayor Zoran Janković and his two sons have been acquitted of tax evasion concerning the sale of shares of the retailer Mercator in 2006 as the court handed down its ruling after a month-long trial on Tuesday. Janković said the acquittal was expected.

Janković, CEO of Mercator until 2007, was charged with tax evasion in the sale of 47,000 Mercator shares to the family company, and his sons, Jure and Damjan, were charged with abetting.

The prosecution claimed he avoided paying roughly EUR 103,000 in capital gains tax via a series of transactions involving two companies owned by his family, Electa Holding and Electa Inženiring, and a bank loan.

The prosecution claimed that Janković had control over Electa Inženiring all along and was still the owner of the shares that were only parked with the company until the sale.

Janković has maintained his innocence. The linchpin of his defence was that the Financial Administration had revoked its decision that he owes tax after conducting a second round of tax inspection, because no irregularities had been found.

During the trial, he accused the prosecutor, Blanka Žgajnar, of "bullying" him and abusing the court.

The court ended up determining that Janković had sold the shares in 2004, before the capital gains tax entered into effect, whereas in 2006 the shares were sold on by Electa Inženiring.

It therefore ruled that these were not fictitious transactions between family members and companies since everything was clear in accounting terms. "It is impossible to say that this was a fictitious transaction for tax purposes," judge Mojca Kocjančič said.

Janković said he had expected an acquittal but described the procedure as "an encroachment of representatives of the authorities in the rights of my family."

He described as "unfathomable" the prosecutor's decision to proceed with the case despite the Financial Administration's decision, saying it was "sad and ridiculous" that the prosecutor today read from the Financial Administration's decision that had been revoked.

Žgajnar, the prosecutor, insisted that she had proved wrongdoing in the course of the trial and announced she would appeal the ruling.

21 Dec 2021, 11:14 AM

STA, 21 December 2021 - UPDATED at 14:30
Almost 35 investigators searched private homes and offices looking for information and evidence of suspected criminal acts involving over EUR 1 million in unlawful gains. The investigation is part of a pre-trial procedure launched two years ago by the Specialised State Prosecution, the General Police Department said.

Five persons are suspected of money laundering, of whom two are also suspected of abuse or office or trust in business activity. No-one was detained for the duration of the house searches, the police said in a written statement.

Janković confirmed to the press the police investigators had searched his home and his wife's shop, the home of his son Damijan Janković and his partner Ursula Gavish, while also investigating the Electa company. According to Siol news portal, the investigation also targets the businessmen Gregor Marolt and Jan Bec.

Police was interested in his wife Mija Janković's paid bills, seized 32 bills and a phone, which Janković said could have been obtained from the bank or at the company. "To my surprise, this time they did not need me, they checked individual bills with my wife," he said at a news conference.

While saying the house searches had been carried out "correctly", Janković criticised the accusations, saying "what is written in the indictment is empty and will bring no results". He quoted his lawyer's words that "the election campaign has already started", adding he was sorry for his wife and kids, blaming it all on Prime Minister Janez Janša.

Janković did not reveal any other details, and admitted he had not had the time to read the 120 pages of accusations.

He noted the trial against him, both of his sons and Electa is continuing today over alleged dodgy deals involving retail Mercator shares and tax evasion.

He said the Financial Administration had completed a procedure which is a basis for the trial without finding any wrongdoing, so he believes that since nothing could be found against him, the authorities have now decided to target his family.

The General Police Department said the suspicion of abuse of office was related to damaging a company controlled by two persons through ownership and managerial posts, as EUR 1.24 million was transferred from it to two companies, both of which are controlled by one of these two persons.

Then, EUR 1.04 million was transferred from these two companies to several other legal and physical persons that withdrew the money in cash to conceal its origin, hence the suspicion of money laundering.

Abuse of office in business carries a prison sentence of one to eight years, whereas money laundering carries up to eight years in prison and a fine, the police said.

08 Dec 2021, 09:12 AM

STA, 7 December 2021 - Ljubljana Mayor Zoran Janković and six co-defendants pleaded not guilty in a case concerning alleged wrongdoing related to the air conditioning engine room of the Stožice Sports Park at Tuesday's pre-trial hearing. The defence was critical of the evidence presented by the prosecution and proposed certain pieces of evidence be excluded.

In addition to Mayor Janković, the co-defendants include his son and director of the company Electa Damijan Janković, former director of the power distributor Energetika Ljubljana Hrvoje Drašković and Zlatko Sraka, the retired former director of the construction company Energoplan.

Also being charged in the case are Uroš Ogrin, a former employee of the bankrupt construction company Gradis, Boštjan Stamejčič of the company Baza Dante and the company Electa Inženiring.

The indictment says that Energetika Ljubljana, following an intervention by Janković, purchased the premises for the air conditioning engine room at Stožice for EUR 3 million from Grep as the builder of the sports park, although the latter was not the owner, but only the holder of the right of superficies.

It adds that the contract signed prior to this arrangement stipulated that Energetika Ljubljana will get these premises free of charge.

The price for the premises had first been set at EUR 1.2 million, after which it was decided to additionally charge Energetika Ljubljana for the premises for the air conditioning engine room that had already been paid for.

An annex was added to the original purchase contract, with the cost ballooning to more than EUR 3 million, and the complicated circle of financial transactions that followed included companies connected with the Janković family.

According to the prosecution, some of the money has ended up directly on the mayor's account.

All six individuals and representative of the indicted company pleaded not guilty at the Ljubljana District Court, with Janković's lawyer Janez Koščak saying that the evidence was unclear.

He asked the court to order the prosecution to specifically elaborate what was being proven with each piece of evidence and, like the majority of representatives of the defendants, he submitted a request for exclusion of evidence.

"Of course the defence claims that everything is unlawful," prosecutor Blanka Žgajnar said after the pre-trial hearing, adding that the prosecution would reply to the proposal, "and then we will carry on with the proceedings.

All our stories on corruption and Slovenia

22 Jan 2021, 15:20 PM

STA, 22 January 2021 - Several associations have expressed support to members of an autonomous social and cultural community who were evicted from the defunct Ljubljana bicycle factory Rog earlier this week. The Slovenian PEN centre condemned the "brutal violence" with which there were evicted, while Mayor Zoran Janković rejected accusations.

Members of the PEN centre said the incident was "unbecoming of democratic Slovenia" just as the attitude towards a Radio Študent journalist, a retired Večer journalist, and writer Vesna Lemaič.

"Their mission to report and write about the developments was jeopardised in the most brutal way and thus freedom of speech was jeopardised, which is something we are particularly aspiring for in the spirit of the PEN Charter."

The centre regretted that dialogue had been completely abandoned and that "violence spoke instead". It called on the municipality to protect the personal items of the members of the community which they have been unable to take with them or pay them compensation, and foremost offer them new rooms.

"Their art is the soul and image of our capital Ljubljana, which encourages culture and is UNESCO's city of literature. Dialogue is undoubtedly the only democratic way to a solution to this problem," the centre said.

The Rog community was also supported by the local Ljubljana committee of the Left party, the Asociacija society, NGO Peace Institute, and the Association of Culture Workers.

The latter said the battle for Rog was a battle for "all of us who do not accept the dictatorship of the capital culture". It noted that the cultural community there was "precious not just for the city but also wider".

In the last 15 years, Rog has been a "centre of critical thought, a hub for social movements, a sanctuary for all those who are being marginalised by the capital", a "place of friendship, comradeship, ideas and projects".

"Rog has been a symbol of all those who are rejecting profit, gentrification, rightist violence, capitalist repression, Janšist Orbanisation," reads a press release issued by the association.

Author and artist Svetlana Makarovič said after the incident she was renouncing her title of honorary citizen of Ljubljana. In a statement for the STA on Thursday, she said she was "deeply hurt and outraged by the thoughtless and harsh eviction of Rog residents, especially because animals that had shelters there were also subjected to the violence."

Ljubljana Mayor Zoran Janković responded to the incident on Thursday, saying that nobody had been at the defunct factory at 7am on Tuesday, when workers accompanied by security guards entered the premises to start demolition with a construction permit after all attempts of mediation failed and based on all court rulings in favour of the municipality.

Supporters of the Rog community and members of the community started to gather in Trubarjeva Street later, and tried to enter the Rog area in a violent way, which police prevented, he said in a Facebook post, stressing that the violence had been provoked by those who wanted to enter Rog in a violent way.

He said that all items that are not owned by the municipality would be recorded and taken to the Snaga waste collection centre in Povšetova Street, where owners would be able to collect them after a prior notice.

The mayor said the municipality planned to build a new Rog culture centre that would provide rooms for more than 500 artists and creative groups on more than 8,000 square metres.

04 Mar 2020, 14:33 PM

STA, 3 March 2020 - Ljubljana Mayor Zoran Janković and six co-defendants pleaded not guilty in a case focussing on EU funds abuse and bank fraud in the construction of the Stožice sports complex as they faced the Ljubljana District Court on Tuesday. 

A total of nine defendants are accused of criminal acts, including abuse of office, fraud of EU funds, fraud to acquire a loan and forgery of documents in the multi-million euro project.

Janković argued that the criminal cases brought against him stemming from the Stožice project were a personal attack on him. Apart from his family, his coworkers have also been drawn into this, he said, adding that the company that built the complex went bankrupt.

"You won't be able to find anybody who would have done it cheaper or better," he said, also noting that the Stožice stadium and arena had opened their doors a decade ago and that they attracted a million visitors a year.

The defendants are former sports institute Zavod Tivoli president Roman Jakič, Uroš Ogrin and Zlatko Sraka, both of the bankrupt construction vehicle company Grep, and Samo Lozej, former director the municipal operator of parking lots and markets. Also among the accused are former construction overseers Borut Skubic and Milan Črepinšek.

Marko Kolenc, of the city's sports department, and project manager Andrej Lavrič did not attend today's hearing and are to make a plea next time. The charges will be presented in more detail at the beginning of the trial.

All our stories on Mayor Zoran Janković can be found here

17 Jan 2020, 13:52 PM

STA, 16 January 2020 - Businessman Damijan Janković, the son of Ljubljana Mayor Zoran Janković, has been fined EUR 2,000 for abetting a tax fraud scheme involving two luxury apartments that ultimately benefited his business partners at the expense of the treasury. Their company has been implicated in several criminal cases that directly involve the Ljubljana mayor.

Janković's business partners, Ivan Mikulin and Boštjan Stamejčič, received suspended sentences of 14 months and 17 months, respectively, plus fines of EUR 2,550 and EUR 6,000.

The verdict, handed down by the Ljubljana District Court on Thursday, caps a trial that started in March 2019 and focused on the sale of a luxury apartment in Ljubljana and one in Tolmin, western Slovenia.

The court found that by forging documentation, the trio committed tax fraud by declaring the properties as business premises while in fact they served as apartments; Damijan Janković lived in one of them for a while.

The sentences are milder than proposed by the prosecution, but the presiding judge, Marjeta Dvornik, said the panel of judges "may not be guided by public pressure". The prosecutor, Marjana Grašič, said she was considering appealing.

The company that ultimately reaped tax benefits from the fraudulent transactions, Baza Dante, has been implicated in several cases in which the Ljubljana mayor has been a suspect in connection with the construction of the Stožice sports complex.

The company went bankrupt in 2014 and was liquidated in 2018.

08 Nov 2019, 15:13 PM

STA, 8 November 2019 - Ljubljana Mayor Zoran Janković is potentially on the line for a significant tax bill stemming from transactions with companies owned by his sons, web portal Siol reported on Friday.

The Tax Administration put a specific type of lien on his family house to the tune of EUR 335,000, a move it typically resorts to if it intends to issue a tax bill.

Such a lien prevents the person subject to a tax audit from selling or encumbering the property or before the end of the audit.

While Janković has refused to comment on the details of the audit, Siol says the tax liability stems from payments the mayor had received from Electa Group, owned by his sons Jure and Damijan Janković.

These transactions have been subject to media scrutiny several times before; Janković claims the money was payback for loans he had given his sons in the past.

This is just one of the Janković family business dealings that authorities are looking at.

Less than two months ago his sons attempted to send the core Electa company into bankruptcy using a simplified insolvency procedure reserved for micro firms, but the procedure was stopped on suspicion creditors may be defrauded.

His son Jure, meanwhile, faces a EUR 600,000 tax bill after tax inspectors found a huge mismatch between his assets and his reported income. Both sons are reportedly in personal bankruptcy.

11 Oct 2019, 07:30 AM

STA, 10 October 2019 - The specialised state prosecution dealing with the most demanding while collar crime and corruption cases has lodged two new indictments against Ljubljana Mayor Zoran Janković, the web portal MMC reported on Thursday. He is allegedly suspected of tax evasion and abuse of office.

The first case dates back to 2006, with the prosecution suspecting that the former CEO of retailer Mercator performed a series of complex business transactions in order to evade taxes by selling 47,000 Mercator shares through a company owned by his sons.

Investigators believe that the company was actually controlled by Janković at the time and that he was the actual owner of shares that he parked at the Electa Inženiring company until he sold them.

According to MMC, charges were filed against three persons and a legal entity in this case last week.

The second case goes back to 2009, when Janković is suspected of abuse of office to acquire EUR 1.4 million in illegal gains for Grep, the main constructor of Stožice sports park.

Moreover, he is suspected of document fabrication to allow Grep acquire a EUR 5.5 million loan from Banka Koper. Charges have been filed against five persons and a legal entity, the names reportedly include former Deputy Mayor Jadranka Dakić and Uroš Ogrin and Zlatko Sraka of Grep.

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