Is this the most unprofessional composition of the Constitutional Court, part of the Slovenian public is wondering, while the judges of the Constitutional Court keep making serious professional errors. Last year, Matej Accetto found himself in an affair of conflict of interest. The confidence in one of the most important judicial institutions in the country has now been further undermined by the work of Constitutional judges Rok Čeferin, Marijan Pavčnik and Dunja Jadek Pensa. The latter found herself in a conflict of interest when the Bank of Slovenia was represented in court by the law firm Jadek & Pensa. The company’s central partners are the Constitutional Court judge’s brother, Srečko Jadek, and the Constitutional Court judge’s husband, Pavle Pensa. According to Tadej Kotnik, the company is considered to be the in-house law firm of the Bank of Slovenia, but not a single cent of the taxpayers’ money that has been spent on the services of this law firm is recorded on the web application Erar. The Bank of Slovenia provided us with the information that in the past, they have paid 28 thousand euros for the services of the Jadek & Pensa law firm. However, they are not part of the Erar app, as they are the central bank and are therefore not obliged to provide data on transactions for the Erar application. However, all public procurements and related contracts of the Bank of Slovenia can be viewed on the website E-naročanje.si (e-ordering.si). Is it finally time for the legislation in Slovenia to change, and will the Constitutional Court judges respond to the call of the Members of Parliament and end their term early due to the conflict of interest?
The Constitutional Court is currently at a very low point due to serious mistakes made by the Constitutional Court judges Matej Acceto, Marijan Pavčnik, Rok Čeferin and Dunja Jadek Pensa, who should end their mandates early because of what they did. However, it is only Dunja Jadek Pensa that will soon leave the aforementioned bunch, as her term had already finished last year, but she is still waiting for her successor because the National Assembly has still not managed to agree on a new Constitutional Court judge, even after several votes.
As we have previously reported, the Constitutional Court judge who, in addition to the conflict of interests in the case of the lawyer candidate Peter Kodrič also found himself in a conflict of interest in the case of non-exclusion from the proceedings where RTV Slovenia was one of the parties before the court, is very marked already. Since April 2015, the public institution RTV has been sending monthly flat rates in the amount of 4207 euros to the Čeferin law firm. According to unofficial data, Rok Čeferin still owns 21 percent of the law firm.
Law firm Jadek & Pensa represents the Bank of Slovenia
And now, the independent journalist Bojan Požar has also exposed Dunja Jadek Pensa with documents and facts. And he will shortly present four more cases of conflict of interest of the Constitutional Court judge in question. Former Finance columnist Tadej Kotnik also revealed all the irregularities of Jadek Pensa in a special letter sent to the Constitutional Court. The outgoing Constitutional Court judge repeatedly found herself in a conflict of interest when deciding on the cases of the Bank of Slovenia. Namely, the central banking institution was represented by the law firm Jadek & Pensa, and Dunja Jadek Pensa is the wife of Pavel Pensa and the sister of Srečko Jadek.
The case of Constitutional Court judge Dunja Jadek Pensa shows how the responsible people at the Constitutional Court have simply covered up multiple errors since April 2018. The judge in question wanted to decide in the matters Up-729/16 and Up-55/17, where the court was deciding on the conduct of the Bank of Slovenia towards its subordinates. However, on the morning of the 19th of April, before the meeting, Kotnik’s letter arrived at the court, marked urgent, which revealed Jadek Pennsa’s past decisions in the Bank of Slovenia cases. We also revealed this ourselves when we reported on the fact that certain judges wanted her to withdraw from the decisions related to the Bank of Slovenia, but at the time, the former President of the Constitutional Court, Miroslav Mozetič, covered for Jadek Pensa. It was precisely because of Kotnik’s letter that her fellow judges at the court suggested that she no longer decides in these cases. She accepted the news with a great deal of displeasure and anger. Later, however, she did not participate in the two cases in question.
The possible continuation of an affair may be triggered by just a short review of the data on Erar, where transactions between the Bank of Slovenia and the law firm Jadek & Pensa have not been recorded. From 2003 until now, the law firm has received more than eight million euros of taxpayers’ money. Given that Kotnik states in his letter that Jadek Pensa has received thousands of euros from the Bank of Slovenia for her work, this should have been audited and recorded. We asked the Bank of Slovenia to explain why they are hiding data that is important for the public. The Bank of Slovenia informed us that as the central bank, they are not obliged to provide data on the transactions to the Erar application and that all public procurement and contracts related to it can be found on the website https://www.enarocanje.si. They also stated that they have not worked with the Jadek & Persa law firm in the last two years, nor had concluded a permanent cooperation agreement with the said office. The last time they paid the bill for their services in the amount of just over 3 thousand euros was at the beginning of 2019. Before that, they cooperated with them in the two years prior as well (which amounted to around 28 thousand euros). Before 2017, they did not work with this law firm.
In some cases, she did not exclude herself and even voted in favour of the Bank of Slovenia
In the letter, Kotnik cites cases from which the outgoing Constitutional judge was not excluded. She should have been excluded from the assessment of the constitutionality of the deleted provisions of the Banking Act (case number U-1-295/13), where she participated in making the key decision on the non-suspension of enforcement and voted in favour of the Bank of Slovenia. She clearly did not intend to withdraw from the making of the final decision on the 16th of October 2016, as she was only excluded after the written proposal of those who submitted the constitutional initiative. It was further revealed that she was also one of the signatories of the decision made on the 25th of January 2016, in which Kotnik’s appeal in the case of challenging the entry of the cancellation of the bonds of the then-Celje Bank was rejected without a plenary hearing. At the end of the letter, Jadek Pensa is caught red-handed once again, as she did not exclude herself from making the decision on the Bank of Slovenia’s request to assess the constitutionality of the amendment to the Bank of Slovenia Act (reference number U-1-168/17), where they decided in favour of the Bank of Slovenia (decision reference number U-4-168/17-19 of the 20th of December 2017), with Dunja Jadek Pesta casting a vote in favour of the Bank of Slovenia. Journalist Bojan Požar has already announced that he will soon present four more cases of conflict of interest in which Dunja Jadek Pensa was involved.
Experts on the legal scene in Slovenia ensure that the law firm Jadek & Pensa is one of the strongest law firms in Slovenia. The firm has always been famous for its large clients. The mainstream media started writing about the issue of bankruptcies in recent days. The author of this article will also prepare an article on this topic shortly, but I can already tell you that the role of Srečko Jadek in the creation of the insolvency legislation is interesting. He is said to be a member of the expert group for the change of the insolvency legislation, and at the same time, a representative of Merkur in the compulsory settlement. At the time, Merkur was only able to make another compulsory settlement because of the change of the legislation, which was also prepared by Dunja Jadek Pensa’s brother, among others.
Experts claim that Merkur benefited the most from the change in legislation, which was was co-created by the influential lawyer Srečko Jadek. They also want to ask the Slovenian public how it can be said that there is no conflict of interest here – it is not known where millions of euros disappeared “but we are all still satisfied. In general, he has no problem with doing very bad things.”
The affairs keep on coming, is it time to change the law?
The Ministry of Justice will seriously have to consider whether there is any possibility of recalling the constitutional court judges in the event of them making serious professional errors. It is precisely the current composition of the Constitutional Court that has often found itself in a seriously contentious conflict of interest. All cases presented by the minority representatives of the media space were supported by evidence and facts. The role of a Constitutional Court judge, however, is safe and inviolable, regardless of the errors. The examples that have been revealed suggest that changes in legislation that would allow a so-called recall of a Constitutional judge are urgent.