Slovak controversial businessman was trying to become an icon of alternative media – with mainstream journalists being one of his main target. Until he was put in jail.
blog post by Martin Turček of aktuality.sk
Marian Kočner is Slovakia’s notorious ‚‚controversial businessman‘‘ – called that way even by the Slovak media. Since the ‘90s, when mafia had strong presence all over Slovakia, he has been acting on the edge of law, using questionable methods to cultivate his significant wealth. Still – surviving. Though, this might soon change.
For years, his name has gone public in various cases. In the ‘90s he was given amnesty by the then president Michal Kováč (along with the president’s son) for his involvement in Technopol scandal (fraud worth more that 2 million US dollars). He was also involved in numerous tax-fraud cases, and just before the elections in 1998, he attempted to take over TV Markiza channel. His name appeared also in a plan to create a waste dump directly in a town in Western Slovakia, and his secret meetings with SaS party chairman Richard Sulík, during which they talked about election of general prosecutor, were caught on video. Last but not least, he was a neighbor of ex-prime minister Robert Fico.
Kočner is so omnipresent, that blogger Pavol Zlacký created a list of all his possible appearances.
Harsh times coming?
Kočner was doing that all without any known damage to himself. Although in the last few years he has been big part of public discourses, his ‚‚business‘‘ usually went around unnoticed by public eye. The ones who noticed activities of Kočner, were only his business partners, who often found themselves robbed of their companies and assets. It seems that has changed recently and Kočner has become the very symbol of wrongdoing in Slovakia and finally law enforcement might be about to close in on him.
So far, Kočner has been charged in three separate cases (Gatex, Donovaly, Zmenky – all economic crimes) and more might be coming, many of them thanks to the work of murdered Slovak journalist Ján Kuciak, who wrote about Kočner and his tax frauds. Kuciak dedicated 22 articles to the businessman.
Don’t care at all
Marian Kočner is not a person who would give in to public pressure. Neither is he the one, whose behavior could be predicted. Last fall, he threatened Ján Kuciak over the phone, saying he would “dig up dirt’’ on the journalist. Kuciak reported it as criminal threats, but police did not proceed with the matter.
“Mr Kuciak, I will start inquiring about your mother,
your father, your siblings, everybody
and will publish everything I find out about you.”
[Kočner’s words during a recorded call with Kuciak; as quoted by Denník N]
After Kuciak’s murder, one could expect Kočner to distance himself from any suspicions that he meant to threaten the journalists and of any involvement in the murder itself. Instead, Kočner remains silent, his reason being that there is an ongoing investigation.
Instead of mitigating his controversial and anti-journalistic activities, in June 2018 Kočner started an alternative Facebook-based ‚‚investigative‘‘ video blog called Na pranieri (In the pillory), where he has been slandering journalists who focus on his business. No personal secret of a journalist stays hidden after Kočner becomes angry at one. Drunk or depressed journalist – the world will hear about it. He threatened to do it to Kuciak, after his death he started bad-mouthing other journalists.
Kočner now might be facing another charge for threats against journalist Adam Valček.
Kočner’s “investigative” show is now on hold as he is being investigated in custody in case of falsification of promissory notes worth €69 million, issued by TV Markíza. For the first time Kočner is sitting behind bars and might be facing serious jail time.