Slovak ministry sows confusion over compliance with Russian sanctions in European projects
A warning against non-compliance with sanctions after checks by the Ministry of Regional Development on several European Union-funded projects involving Austrian construction giant Strabag has caused confusion among Slovak municipalities.
Strabag is a company based in Vienna and active in several EU member states. Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska was involved in the venture through investment holding company Rasperia, which owns 27.8% of the construction giant.
After Mr. Deripaska was sanctioned by the EU last April, Strabag’s general meeting expelled Rasperia from the company’s supervisory board on May 5, which would have had the effect of freezing dividend payments intended for to the Russian oligarch.
Despite Strabag’s guarantees and the absence of prior warning, the Slovak Ministry of Investments and Regional Development, responsible for European funds, recently asked municipalities to provide it with information on projects involving Strabag and carried out checks on many of them.
In the final communication of these checks, the Ministry informed the municipalities that “if they identify a sanctioned person or company involved in their projects, they must inform the managing authority and ensure that no ineligible expenditure is subject to reimbursement by the managing authority”.
Lenka Kukučková, from the Trenčín Autonomous Region, told EURACTIV that the ministry’s communication raised concerns about the eligibility of Strabag’s expenses. This week, several municipalities expressed their concerns in the media.
When EURACTIV asked the ministry why Strabag was still a problem, the ministry replied that it “sees no reason for beneficiaries to be concerned about the ineligibility of payments” and that the information provided in the communication to the municipalities did not relate to Strabag.
Regarding the request for information, the ministry argued that it is only preparing for a possible increase in sanctions.
“The truth is that no official communication has been sent to the municipalities. In March this year, Ms Remišová said that Strabag could pay for Deripaska, but unfortunately no public statement has been made to say that this would not be the case”added Ms. Kukučková.
“We already looked into this matter in March and found no reason to put Strabag out of the way”said Transport Minister Andrej Doležal.