Saturday

21st Apr 2018

'Gorilla' taints EU oversight of Greek bailout

  • Commission HQ: Brussels is trying to wash its hands of the affair (Photo: ec.europa.eu)

The resignation of a Slovak official installed by the EU to help oversee Greek state sell-offs has posed questions over its selection procedure.

The official, Anna Bubenikova, stepped down last Thursday (9 August) from her post as one of three EU advisors on the Hellenic Republic Asset Development Fund (Hradf), a Greek-government-owned firm set up in July to auction up to €50 billion of assets - including the state lottery, real estate and shares in Greek banks - in line with EU bailout demands.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

Her decision came after a Slovak TV channel, Markiza TV, revealed on 2 August that she got the Hradf post despite being implicated in the so-called Gorilla scandal.

Gorilla is the codename of a Slovak secret service wiretap operation in 2005 and 2006.

Transcripts of the wiretaps were leaked on the Internet last December, alleging that Bubenikova, a former director of the National Property Fund (NPF), a Slovak privatisation agency, used her post to help one of her husband's companies.

Bubenikova lost her NPF job over the affair in January.

But the then government of former prime minister Iveta Radicova recommended her anyway for the Hradf post to the EU Council's working group on the eurozone, which gave her the Hradf job.

The Markiza TV report prompted the Slovak finance ministry on 6 August to publicly ask the Eurogroup, the Brussels-based club of euro-using countries, to reconsider her appointment on "ethical" grounds.

For her part, Bubenikova said in a press release that she resigned in order to protect Hradf from "untrue assertions ... made by some media and some Slovak politicians."

Meanwhile, the European Commission is trying to distance itself from the situation.

A commission official in its Bratislava delegation, Ingrid Ludvikova, said in a statement to Slovak press the whole thing is "the responsibility of the employer, which is [Hradf]. It is not for the European Commission to rule on this matter."

The commission's delegation in Athens said in a communique that Bubenikova was selected due to "her professional experience and expertise in the field of privatisation."

It added that "to the commission's knowledge, the Slovak authorities have not started any legal proceedings or any formal investigation" against her and that "it subscribes to the fundamental principle of 'innocent until proven guilty'."

Words are not enough, Barroso tells Greece

Greece must stop delaying reforms, EU commission president Barroso said in Athens while Greek PM Samaras called on EU politicians to refrain from negative comments, with sceptical statements emerging almost daily from Germany.

Investigation

MEP friendship groups offer 'backdoor' for pariah regimes

MEPs are using so-called 'friendship groups' to cater to foreign governments without oversight and little public scrutiny. Initially set up to promote cultural exchanges, some have become lobbying platforms to push state views from governments with poor human rights records.

Getting secret EU trilogue documents: a case study

On Thursday, the European Parliament will vote on a political deal on organic farming, following 19 months of behind-closed-doors negotiations. EUobserver here details a five-month odyssey to get access to the secret documents that led to the deal.

News in Brief

  1. Audit office: Brexit 'divorce' bill could be billions higher
  2. MEPs urge better protection for journalists
  3. Dieselgate: MEPs back greater role for EU in car approvals
  4. European parliament adopts new organic farming rules
  5. EU granted protection to half million people in 2017
  6. Report: Facebook to carve 1.5bn users out of EU privacy law
  7. Greek court ruling permits migrants to travel to mainland
  8. Commonwealth summit hopes for trade boost after Brexit

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersWorld's Energy Ministers to Meet in Oresund in May to Discuss Green Energy
  2. ILGA EuropeParabéns! Portugal Votes to Respect the Rights of Trans and Intersex People
  3. Mission of China to the EUJobs, Energy, Steel: Government Work Report Sets China's Targets
  4. Martens CentreJoin Us at NET@WORK2018 Featuring Debates on Migration, Foreign Policy, Populism & Disinformation
  5. European Jewish CongressKantor Center Annual Report on Antisemitism Worldwide - The Year the Mask Came Off
  6. UNICEFCalls for the Protection of Children in the Gaza Strip
  7. Mission of China to the EUForeign Minister Wang Yi Highlights Importance of China-EU Relations
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersImmigration and Integration in the Nordic Region - Getting the Facts Straight
  9. Macedonian Human Rights MovementMacedonians in Bulgaria Demand to End the Anti-Macedonian Name Negotiations
  10. Counter BalanceThe EIB Needs to Lead by Example on Tax Justice
  11. ILGA EuropeTrans People in Sweden to be Paid Compensation for Forced Sterilisation
  12. International Partnership for Human RightsThe Danger of Standing Up for Justice and Rights in Central Asia

Latest News

  1. ECJ ruling set to end 10-year 'mouth tobacco' lobbying saga
  2. Whistleblowers, Syria and digital revolution This WEEK
  3. MEP friendship groups offer 'backdoor' for pariah regimes
  4. Macron and Merkel pledge euro reform
  5. Obscurity surrounds EU military fund's expert groups
  6. New EU party finance rules short circuit accountability
  7. Draghi to stay in secretive 'lobby' group
  8. Bulgaria offers lesson in tackling radical-right populists