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Slovenia's Former AML Chief Faces Abuse of Power Charges Amid Political Controversy

Former director of Slovenia's Anti-Money Laundering Agency, Damjan Žugelj, has been charged with abuse of power in a case that many believe to be politically motivated. Alongside Žugelj, several of his associates are also facing accusations of abuse of office. This development is being seen as an unjust crackdown on opponents of former Prime Minister Janez Janša.

Slovenia's Former AML Chief Faces Abuse of Power Charges Amid Political Controversy

"The Office for Money Laundering Prevention launched one of the biggest investigations of bank accounts ever in 2021 based on an anonymous letter. At the time, it was headed by Žugelj, who had held several senior positions in Janša’s governments," the report states.

In a remarkably short period, the agency sent 238 requests to banks to scrutinize 195 bank accounts belonging to 107 individuals and companies. Notably, this list included journalists and media owners, which raised concerns about the investigation's intent.

"According to investigative portal Necenzurirano, while in office, Janša allegedly struck a deal with Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić before Slovenia's parliamentary elections. The report suggests that Janša was interested in Robert Golob, who is now the Prime Minister, and the company he led at the time, Gen-I. In contrast, Vučić purportedly wanted information on the dealings of Serbian opposition leader Dragan Đilas and Dragan Šolak, the Serbian owner of N1's parent company, United, and the telecoms operator Telemach. Janša has rejected these reports, labeling them as 'absurd insinuations.'"

"In May, Žugelj denied allegations that the investigation targeted media house owners. He claimed that such accusations aimed to discredit him."

"If these charges are substantiated, it could signify one of the most serious instances of official institutions being exploited for partisan political purposes to influence election outcomes in the country's history, according to Prime Minister Robert Golob."

"The fate of Damjan Žugelj and the prosecution now rests in the hands of the prosecution, as the charges have been forwarded to it by the National Bureau of Investigation, a specialized unit dealing with severe cases of economic crime."

This case has garnered significant attention, with many closely watching the developments in Slovenia's political and legal landscape.



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