Yesterday, Igor Bavčar and Boško Šrot were sentenced to seven years and five years, ten months prison sentence for their role in takeover of Istrabenz. While both are expected to appeal the verdict, this event, coming on the heels of Patria verdict marks an important milestone.
As you know, the Bavčar/Šrot affair goes way back to 2005, when their respective MBO attempts were part of a larger scheme in which Šrot and Bavčar were given the go-ahead to take over Mercator and then went about taking over the companies they ran by employing a series of what at the time were seen as ingenious business moves, while Janez Janša and his government were given undue influence if not operative control over Delo, the nation’s largest broadsheet daily.
All these grand schemes have now crumbled to sand-dust and the symbolism of this cannot be overstated. On one hand we have nothing short of collapse of the grandeur of Slovenian independence. Sure, one could argue that the supposed virginity of this nation’s statehood was lost at least when the scope and systemic nature of the “erasure” became known, but still. Janša and Bavčar, two of the architects of Slovenian independence, who sought and were usually granted cult status, have now been found guilty of abuse of powers. The mighty have truly fallen.
If Bavčar and Janša represent the new political elite, then Boško Šrot is the epitome of the new economic elite. The nouveau riche of Slovenia. Having been hand-picked sucessor to Tone Turnšek, the guy who made Laško a serious player in the drinks industry, Šrot (who played a big role in Laško takeover of Ljubljana-based Union Brewery) went about wrapping up Laško’s hold on much of Slovenian economy: drinks, retail, media… You name it. Together with Bavčar’s Istrabenz which (to use a hase popular at the time) “consolidated” the foods industry, there was little he couldn’t do. Including help Bavčar try to take over Istrabenz.
Instead it all ended in tears, with Šrot now poised to join the ranks of fallen “pillars of economy”, construction bosses Hilda Tovšak, Ivan Zidar and Dušan Černigoj as well as former big retail kahuna Bine Kordež of Merkur, who was just recently locked up for six years on a similar charge.
Combined with the swift fall from grace experienced by Dimitrij Rupel, who in this constellation of the fallen represents those feel are simply entitled to powerful and prestigious positions, what we have here is a fairly quick disintegration of an important part of the ruling political class.
As for reasons for this, we can safely point the finger at the winter popular uprisings. It seems that apart from removing Janša from power, those were instrumental in breaking the spell politics had on various other sub-systems of the society. This includes the judiciary which was under nearly constant attacks over its incompetence and – truth be told – as time passed, these claims seemed to have ever more merit. But as if the uprisings showed that things can indeed be achieved if you try hard enough, the judiciary appears to have applied the principle of the rule of law primarily to those, who have gamed it for years on end and who – perversely – were the first to point out its inefficiencies whenever it suited them.
Just as in Janša’s case, the verdict against Bavčar and Šrot will in all likelihood be appealed at the Higher Court (OT: go see Rolig’s comment on “innocent until proven guilty”) But on the whole, the old adage has once again been confirmed: Karma is a bitch.