Slovakia’s central bank governor charged in corruption case

Slovak prosecutors said on Wednesday that the governor of the country’s central bank, Peter Kazimir, had been charged with a “corruption-related crime”.

The general prosecutor’s office said that the charge against Kazimir, who is also a member of the European Central Bank’s governing council, had been brought on October 8, but declined to provide any further information, citing the “early stage of the criminal case”.

The statement from prosecutors follows Slovak media reports that Kazimir, who served as finance minister before taking over the reins of the National Bank of Slovakia in 2019, had been charged in a case relating to an alleged bribe for a former senior tax official.

The website wrote that Kazimir was alleged to have played the role of a “courier” in bringing a bribe of about €50,000 to the former official.

Kazimir said on Tuesday evening after the report was published that he did “not feel guilty of committing any criminal acts”.

“The information provided isn’t true and the reasoning in the given statement lacks corroborating evidence,” he said in a statement issued via the National Bank of Slovakia.

“I have no information and I am not aware of any violation of the law. I have never had any interest in influencing any proceedings.”

Kazimir’s lawyer said that Kazimir had been accused of bribery and would “fight, challenge the accusation and file a complaint in the matter of days”.

The Slovak central bank declined to comment beyond releasing Kazimir’s comments. The ECB also declined to comment.

The charge against Kazimir comes amid a broader series of investigations into alleged corruption in Slovakia’s business and political elite that were set in train after the murder of young investigative journalist Jan Kuciak and his fiancée Martina Kusnirova in 2018.

Police linked the killings to Kuciak’s work investigating corruption, and the case sent shockwaves through the central European nation, leading to the resignation of then prime minister Robert Fico, in 2018, and ultimately to the ousting of his Smer party in parliamentary elections last year.

Slovakia’s president Zuzana Caputova said on Wednesday that she respected the presumption of innocence in relation to Kazimir. But she added that if she were in his position, she would consider resigning in order to protection the central bank, according to the newspaper Dennik N.

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