Contrary to what Slovene Tourist Board would have you believe, Slovenia is not a neat and tidy country where everyone recycles, doesn’t swear and vacates his/her seat on the bus so that the little old lady can sit dowm. No, sir-ee!
Slovenia is also where white-collar crime was perfected into an art form, mostly because the criminals were people like your next door neighbour, the kind that you’d let your kids go to the seaside with, or invite to your lawn party. Like a former State Secretary (under-minister) for Economic Affairs Boris Šuštar, who was charged with demanding and taking bribes on numerous occasions in exchange for rigging results of various government tenders. In one particular case he was accussed of giving a government grant of 21 million tolars (nearly € 100.000) to a certain company, of which he took a 30 percent cut. Remember, this was done more than seven years ago. Eventually, Šuštar was arrested, caught with his hand in the cookie jar. Just like in the movies he was picked up while receiving some 70.000 deutschmarks (€ 35.000) in bribes in one of Ljubljana’s pubs. But it is here where the plot thickens…
A photo-job of Šuštar, circling the net shortly after his arrest. (source)
Namely… Our legendary justice system almost grinded to a halt on this one. People were unwilling to testify, evidence was lacking and Šuštar’s lawyers did their best to stall the proceedings and/or have a mistrial declared. But defence attorneys are paid to do that, so no problem there.
Why was evidence lacking? Because both crim-police and the prosecution were (and still are) ill equipped for bringing white-collar criminals to justice. I mean – how do you prove that the tender was rigged? Or that particular sum of € 200.000 at the defendants Cayman bank account was to get laundered? Well, you need experts. But if the people at the Attorney General’s office have no financial background, then you get to see bizzare scenes where the defendant is actually explaining the intricacies of financial world to the court, rather than explaining himself/herself.
And why people didn’t want to testify? Not because Šuštar would have some big mafia organisation covering his back and getting rid of witnesses… It’s just that some level of corruption is embedded into Slovene soul. Ripping the state off, making money on the side, not paying any more tax than absolutely necesary, getting better medical care by giving a bottle of whiskey to your doctor, making sure your kid makes it to the next grade by bribing the teacher… All you need is a shotgun and a pair of horses and you’ve got yourself a redneck Christmas!
And on top of that (or maybe precisely because of that), Slovene judiciary failed to revoke Šuštar’s traveling documents, enabling him to flee to…. you’ve guessed it… to Canada 😀
It’s not just that Les Canadiens are awfully nice people whom you generaly like to be around. As far as Šuštar is concerned, there was the small matter of Slovenia and Canada not having an extradition treaty – unlike Slovenia and the USA where Davorin Sadar, another “transition-criminal” took refuge, but a smartass at the ministry of interior dug up an ancient treaty between the USA and Kingdom od Serbia, which was (by quirks of history) inherited by Slovenia as Yugoslavia broke up.
So, if you gotta run, run to Canada! 😀