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Former Slovak President Andrej Kiska convicted of tax fraud

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A court in Slovakia found Wednesday former President Andrej Kiska guilty of tax fraud and gave him a two-year suspended sentence.

The county court in the city of Poprad also handed him a fine of 15,000 euros (about $16,000).

The verdict is not final and his legal team said he planned to appeal it. Kiska, 60, had pleaded not guilty.

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The case dates back to 2014 when Kiska was running for president. At the time, he was a successful businessman-turned-philanthropist and a political newcomer.

According to the court, Kiska illegally included tax receipts from the presidential campaign in the books of his KTAG family company.

Andrej Kiska

Then-President Andrej Kiska of Slovakia addresses the press, Vienna, Austria, Monday, Feb. 19, 2018. (AP Photo/Ronald Zak, File)

Such activities were not part of the firm’s business.

KTAG through Kiska’s associate Eduard Kuckovsky then claimed a tax return worth more than 155,000 euros (about $165,000). Kuckovsky also received a two-year suspended sentence and a fine of 10,000 euros (about $10,600) .

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At the time, Kiska beat then populist Prime Minister Robert Fico in the race to become the country’s president for the five-year-termed largely ceremonial post. Kiska’s term in office was marked by clashes with Fico, whose leftist Smer, or Direction, party was tarnished by corruption scandals.

Kiska supported huge street protests that led to the fall of Fico’s coalition government in 2018 amid a political crisis triggered by the slaying last year of an investigative reporter looking into possible widespread government corruption.

Pro-West Kiska did not run for a second five-year term in 2019.

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Fico and his Smer won the Sept 30 parliamentary election and struck a deal with two other parties on Wednesday to form a new government.

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