Slovak PM taps controversial ex-banker as economy minister

GMT 20:32 2015 Wednesday ,10 June

Arab Today, arab today Slovak PM taps controversial ex-banker as economy minister

Slovak and European Union flags flutter
Bratislava - AFP

Slovakia's leftist Prime Minister Robert Fico on Wednesday tapped controversial former high-flying banker Vazil Hudak as economy minister after Pavol Pavlis resigned amid allegations of conflict of interest.

"I don't know when the president will set the date of his (Hudak's) appointment," Fico told reporters after a regular Wednesday government meeting in the capital Bratislava.

A Harvard Business School graduate, 50-year-old Hudak held senior positions at banks JPMorgan Chase and Citigroup before joining the Slovak finance ministry as a secretary of state in 2012.

He has faced continued criticism over his close ties to the banks.

Hudak was in charge of managing relations with governments in eastern Europe for both banks, and came under heavy criticism when they were chosen in June last year to advise Slovakia on the sale of its 49 percent stake in Slovak Telekom.

A deal that was sealed last month resulted in the sale of the country's largest phone company to German communication giant Deutsche Telekom for 900 million euros ($1 billion).
Former economy minister Juraj Miskov publicly condemned the choice of the banks as advisors, accusing Hudak of patronage.

Pavol Pavlis was forced to step down as economy minister in April amid allegations of nepotism after a company run by his brother-in-law won a tender to clean a hospital that was being managed by the ministry.

Prime Minister Fico faces a general election next year in the eurozone country of 5.4 million people, where stubborn unemployment hovers at 11 percent despite brisk economic growth expected to hit 3.2 percent this year.


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