As Slovakia prepares to take to the polls for the parliamentary elections on March 5, the country’s prime minister has come out with a rather suspicious announcement that is being questioned by local media.
Prime Minister Robert Fico announced the arrival of an investor supported by a generous state subsidy. He said the secure identity document production company RKN Global Europe will build in Banská Bystrica a plant to manufacture products with security features for €89m and hire 1,200 people.
As reported by The Slovak Spectator, it is not possible to check whether the investment is real. It is also not possible to find any references on the company’s website and even though the company claims that it manufactures payment cards MasterCard and Visa, these firms do not mention any of RKN’s products among authorised technologies.
Based on the company’s website, Ronald Kenneth Noble is the sole owner of the company. Noble led Interpol, the international criminal police organisation, between 2000 and 2014.
As for Noble, his departure last year was without distinction. At the time, a commentator of The Telegraph, Peter Oborne, wrote: “He leaves office with a dismal record of having allowed the international crime-busting organisation to collaborate with regimes with no regard for the rule of law”. Oborne was referring to cooperation of Interpol and Russia during investigation of the death of Sergei Magnitsky who died in a Russian jail after he complained about inhumane conditions. Investigation of his death was halted with the explanation that no crime was committed.
Meanwhile, Veronika Remišová, running on the slate of Ordinary People-Independent Personalities (OĽaNO), pointed out on her blog that the technological partners of RKN Global are three Ukrainian companies linked to extensive corruption.
In a bid to quiet the controversy, Economy Minister Vazil Hudák has stressed that apart from state aid the investment must be covered also by the money of the business person or a loan. The company will receive the incentives only after it invests its own money and employs the promised number of people, according to the ministry.