Bratislava, Slovakia – Former President Andrej Kiska has been charged by Slovak police with tax fraud a few months ahead of the country’s parliamentary elections due in February.
Opposition leader Kiska charged with tax fraud
Andrej Kiska, who launched his own political party shortly after leaving office in June, is suspected of campaign financing irregularities and breaching campaign spending rules during the 2014 presidential election.
“The fraud is connected with entering tax receipts for the presidential election campaign into the books of [Kiska’s] company [KTAG], although these activities were not part of the company’s business”, Slovak police said on Friday.
Prosecutors had already looked into KTAG’s tax records and financial books twice in the past, but decided not to press charges back then. A third investigation was launched earlier this year.
The former President, who worked as a businessman and entrepreneur before going into politics, quickly fought back, arguing in a Facebook post that the charges were part of a “dirty political campaign and proof that there’s a political mafia and blackmail ruling Slovakia”.
Kiska v. Fico: “A dirty political campaign”?
The announcement comes only one day after Robert Fico, chairman of the ruling Smer party and former Prime Minister, widely seen as Kiska’s arch-rival, was also charged by Slovak police for inciting racial hatred.
“Fico continues with his revenge”, Kiska said during a press conference. “I am not afraid of Fico, I have beaten him once, I will beat him again”, he added.
Kiska beat Fico in the second round of the 2014 presidential election, and the two men, the former as President and the latter as Prime Minister, have repeatedly crossed swords during their time in office.
After leaving office in summer, Andrej Kiska launched his own liberal political party, ‘For the People’, in a bid to unseat Fico’s governing Smer party in next February’s parliamentary elections.
Although Smer remains in the lead in most polls with around 20% support, the gap with Kiska’s party and other oppositions groupings has been rapidly narrowing in recent months, throwing more uncertainty over the outcome of next year’s election.