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Aleksander Jevšek, Director of the Criminal Police Directorate at the General Police Directorate, and Iztok Perenič, Head of the Criminal Police Division at the Koper Police Directorate, held a press conference today to present a successful, just completed criminal investigation of the criminal offences of economic crime and corruption, in which several individuals were arrested. They also described the problems associated with the investigation of corruption criminal offences and gave some statistical data.

 mg 6693From left to right: Iztok Perenič, Head of the Criminal Police Division at the Koper Police Directorate, Aleksander Jevšek, Director of the Criminal Police Directorate at the General Police Directorate, and Drago Menegalija, Police Public Relations Officers for Criminal Matters

Criminal Investigation

At the end of January 2009 a former director of a company in the area of Koper Police Directorate reported to the criminal police that a 43-year-old official receiver from Ljubljana, and a 31-year-old man with temporary residence in the area of Koper Police directorate, who works for her, demanded him to pay a EUR 20,000 bribe. In return they offered to issue an altered opening balance of the company that has declared bankruptcy, whose director he was before bankruptcy. The opening balance would not include several ten thousand euro of claims of the company on the former director, which means that these funds would not be part of the bankrupt company's estate. The former director filed a crime report at the Koper Police Directorate and submitted evidence that gave ground for the suspicion that both suspects demanded a bribe.

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Iztok Perenic, Head of the Criminal Police Division at the Koper Police Directorate

Police officers confirmed that bankruptcy had indeed been initiated for the company whose former director reported the criminal offence, with a decision of the Koper District Court at the end of 2008. It was discovered that the official receiver invited the former director of the company to her office in Ljubljana as soon as bankruptcy was declared and accused him of irregularities in business operations that she had allegedly seen in book-keeping documents, and especially irregularities connected to personal loans from the company in the amount of several tens of thousand euro.

The former director tried to explain to her the business operations and difficulties but she was not interested. Instead she threatened to report him and tried to justify it in different ways. Then she personally demanded a bribe and on 6 February 2009 accepted the bribe in the amount of EUR 20,000. In return they illegally altered the balance to show that the company had no claims on the former director.

The investigation confirmed his accusations and the fact that the receiver had had a partner, who contacted the former director several times in person and over the phone, demanding a bribe on behalf of the receiver. They were helped by the partner's 34-year-old sister from Koroska, whose contribution was to produce a forged opening balance sheet of the company declared bankrupt - the same that the receiver then handed over to the former director in return for the bribe.

On 6 February, immediately after the receiver had accepted the bribe in the presence of the 31-year old partner, both suspects were arrested and house searches were carried out on the basis of court orders. The 34-year-old suspect from Koroska was also arrested and her house and office were searched.

During the search of the receiver's law firm in Ljubljana a representative of the Bar Association was present. The criminal investigators were mostly looking for the EUR 20,000 bribe the receiver had accepted. The money was finally found below a window of one of the law firm's offices.

Police detention was ordered for all three suspects; two of them were detained for 48 hours, and the 34-hour woman was released after house searches were completed.

On 8 February crime reports were filed against the 43-year receiver, her 31-year-old partner and the 34-year old woman from Koroska for the following criminal offences: acceptance of bribe (under the first paragraph of Art. 261 of PC), extortion (under the first and second paragraphs of Art. 213 of PC) and forgery of business documents (under the first paragraph of Art. 235). Both detained suspects were brought before the investigating judge of the Koper District Court, who ordered pre-trial custody for both.

According to the crime report the official receiver committed a criminal offence of acceptance of a bribe, when she demanded and received a bribe of EUR 20,000 in cash, and abused her official position. Her partner is suspected of acting as an agent in the bribery, and his sister is accused of aiding and abetting them by producing a forged starting balance sheet of the bankrupt company. In doing so she committed a criminal offence of forgery of business documents. The same offence was also committed by the receiver, as she approved the contents of the balance sheet by stamping it, despite her knowing that it did not contain claims to the former director. According to the crime report, the 43-year-old official receiver and her 31-year-old partner have also committed a criminal offence of extortion, by means of which they wanted to obtain illegal pecuniary advantage.

The criminal investigation in this case still continues.

Problems of corruption

The press conference presented a case involving the suspicion of a clear corruption crime, i.e. acceptance of bribe under Art. 261 of the Penal Code (PC) combined with two other criminal offences: extortion under Art. 213 of PC-1 and forgery or destruction of business documents under Art. 235 of PC-1. The suspected crime had been detected by the criminal investigators of the Koper Police Directorate, while the whole procedure was directed by the District State Prosecutor's Office in Koper. The investigation also involved the Criminal Police Directorate of the General Police Directorate as well as criminal investigators of the Police Directorate Ljubljana and criminal investigators of the Police Directorate Slovenj Gradec.

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Aleksander Jevsek, Director of the Criminal Police Directorate at the General Police Directorate

The term corruption encompasses eight criminal offences defined in the Slovenian Penal Code (PC-1), as follows:

  • violation of free choice of voters under Art. 151,
  • acceptance of bribe at the election or ballot under Art. 157
  • unlawful acceptance of gifts under Art. 241
  • unlawful giving of gifts under Art. 242
  • acceptance of bribe under Art. 261
  • giving of bribe under Art. 262
  • acceptance of gifts to secure unlawful intervention under Art. 263
  • giving of gifts to secure unlawful intervention under Art. 264

The penalties prescribed for individual criminal offences indicate that the most severe offence is acceptance of bribe by officials in order to perform an official act that they are not permitted to perform or to not perform an official act that they are obliged or permitted to perform, as the prescribed penalty is imprisonment of not more than eight years.

The investigation of all criminal offences, including corruption crimes, where criminal analysts are actively included by the police, is governed by the existing procedural and substantive penal law. The police acquire information on corruption crimes through their own activity and based on reports by other state authorities (e.g. Tax Administration of the RS, Court of Audit of the RS, Commission for the Prevention of Corruption), the citizens, any individual involved in such offences, the mass media and anonymous tips.

 mg 6725In all cases of corruption the police cooperate, in pre-trial procedure, with the state prosecutor's office pursuant to the Criminal Procedure Act and the Decree on the cooperation of the State Prosecutor's Office of the RS and the Police in detection and investigation of perpetrators of criminal offences. They keep the state prosecutors informed of all cases where there is reasonable suspicion that a corruption offence or another offence liable for prosecution has taken place. Based on such information the state prosecutor may decide to direct the investigation. This enables him/her to communicate directly with the police officer dealing with the case and direct him/her, as well to be informed about all the activities carried out and measures taken. In investigating any criminal offence, the information exchange procedure is well established - the exchange is direct and takes place without complications or hierarchical decision making levels, which contributes to a quicker and more efficient investigation of corruption cases.

The investigation of corruption crimes is demanding as such acts are concealed, complicated and as a rule intertwined with other economic crimes. Practice has shown that corruption can represent an indirect motive for the perpetration of an economic crime, which is then processed and recorded within the framework of other economic crimes. The case in question illustrates the demanding and complex nature of investigating and substantiating the suspicion of corruption crimes. Tactical planning of the investigation and final measures is necessary from the very beginning, while it is particularly important that all police methods be implemented legally so that the evidence obtained is admissible in further procedure. Such investigation would not be possible without direct cooperation and guidance by state prosecutors (especially in cases where covert methods and measures are used). Furthermore, this case confirms the fact that corruption is seeping into many segments of social and business life. Since both the receiver and the giver of a bribe have attained their goal, corruption cases are very rarely reported. We believe that this is also the reason why there is a relatively low number of corruption crimes detected in the total mass of economic crimes.

It must therefore be emphasised that the police will take quick action in all cases of suspicion of corruption crimes and do all that is necessary to secure evidence and protect the persons filing the report.

Even now the citizens can file crime reports on corruption crimes on the anonymous telephone number of the police 080 1200 while it will shortly be possible to anonymously report such acts via e-mail as well.

Statistical data

In 2008 the police investigated 46 typical corruption crimes, out of which 18 were concluded with the filing of a crime report (by 5.2 % less that in 2007, when the number had been 19), while reports based on Art. 148 of the Criminal Procedure Act were filed for 32 corruption crimes. In 2008 the police also investigated, and concluded with a crime report, 8 economic crimes (the offence of position or rights under Art. 244 and abuse of office or official duties under Art. 261). The investigation of those criminal offences started as an investigation of corruption crimes although following pre-trial procedure they were identified as economic crimes.

Statistical data show that the level of corruption crimes in Slovenian is below the average European standard, which was also confirmed by international surveys and research that placed Slovenia among the transition countries that are less affected by corruption. According to international organisations Slovenia is best placed among the transition countries and is much better placed than some EU Member States such as Italy, Spain or Greece.

Such findings have also been reported in the Report on the 2004 proposal of the Resolution on the Prevention of Corruption in the Republic of Slovenia and in the annual evaluation of the TI Corruption Perceptions Index by the international organisation Transparency International, which placed Slovenia, among all the world countries, 31st in 2005, 28th in 2006, 27th in 2007 and 26th in 2008 (the higher the place the better the result). This international research is one of the most well-known corruption perception index researches in the world and includes all the existing measuring indexes, including the field of corruption crime.