World News

Slovak central bank head refuses to resign over bribery charges

The head of Slovakia’s central bank, who is a member of the European Central Bank committee that decides monetary policy for 20 countries, said Monday he won’t step down despite bribery charges against him.

Peter Kazimir is accused of paying a bribe of 48,000 euros ($52,000) to the head of the country’s tax office in connection with a tax audit of several private companies. He faces up to five years in prison if convicted. It wasn’t clear when a verdict might be issued.

Kazimir said he considered the charges illegal and fabricated.

HEAD OF SLOVAKIA’S CENTRAL BANK PETER KAZIMIR CONVICTED OF BRIBERY

“I will never resign,” he told reporters after the trial opened Monday in a court in the town of Pezinok near the capital, Bratislava. “And you know why? Because I haven’t done anything wrong.”

Peter Kazimir

Slovak central bank head Peter Kazimir announced Monday his refusal to resign from office, defying charges alleging his involvement in a bribery scheme worth over $50,000. (AP Photo/Virginia Mayo, File)

Slovakia is one of 20 countries that use the euro currency and Kazimir is a member of the European Central Bank’s governing council, its main decision-making body.

The case dates to when Kazimir served as finance minister in the leftist government of populist Prime Minister Robert Fico from 2012 to 2019. He was a member of Fico’s Smer-Social Democracy party before taking his central bank job.

SLOVAK COURT ACQUITS BUSINESSMAN IN RETRIAL OVER 2018 MURDER OF JOURNALIST

Smer lost the 2020 general election and was replaced by a coalition government whose parties campaigned on an anti-corruption ticket.

Since the new government took power, a number of senior officials, police officers, judges, prosecutors, politicians and businesspeople have been charged with corruption and other crimes.

Kazimir is the first minister of Fico’s government to stand trial.

Fico’s party has a good chance of winning September’s early elections in Slovakia.

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