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Monday, 9 December 2013, IBM Innovation Centers, Crystal Palace, BTC, Ljubljana

On the International day Against Corruption, the AmCham Working Group for Corporate Ethics and Transparency organized a Panel Discussion on the topic Conflicts of Interests – Risks and Management

The opening address was given by dr.Gregor Virant, Minister of the Interior and Public Administration of the Republic of Slovenia.


  • dr. Gregor Virant, Minister of the Interior and Public Administration of the Republic of Slovenia
  • Rok Praprotnik, Commission for the Prevention of Corruption of the Republic of Slovenia
  • Aleš Avbreht, Avbreht, Zajc in partnerji o.p.; d.o.o. – Avbreht, Zajc & Partners Law Firm, Ltd. and Chairman of the AmCham Public Procurement Committee
  • Michele Leonardi, IBM Slovenia d.o.o. and Co-chair of AmCham Corporate Ethics and Transparency Working Group
  • mag. Mateja Ipavic Modic, Ministry of the Interior, Office of Internal Audit

At the AmCham Panel of Experts, guest speakers discussed the following topics:

International Day against Corruption (9 December 2013), Corporate Ethics and Transparency, Transfer of Good Practices from the Economy in Public Administration, Business Ethics, Corporate Ethics, Personal Ethics as an Opposite, Ethics in Public Companies and in Private Companies, Profit as opposed to Ethics, Crisis as a Factor that Prevents Ethical Conduct, Conflict of Interests – Risks and Management

The moderator of the round table was excellent Mojca Međedović, CFE, Authorized Investigator of Fraud and Manager of Forensic Services Company PWC Ltd., who raised also very direct questions related to the smallness of the economic and political environment and to all the risks, brought by the specifics of the Slovenian territory.

Barbra Rudmann, Johnson & Johnson and Co-chair of AmCham Corporate Ethics and Transparency Working Group, in her introductory speech summarized the goals set by the Working Group for the year 2014.

Conflict of Interests is not yet a Crime

Participants at the AmCham Panel Discussion unanimously determined that a conflict of interests is not yet a crime, as many people find themselves in such a situation. In such cases we should more often have to ask ourselves, what is moral, and not just what is legal.

Public Tolerance of Corruption is getting Lower

Dr. Gregor Virant, Minister of the Interior and Public Administration of the Republic of Slovenia and the President of Državljanska lista in his speech recalled the events of recent weeks, related to efforts in preventing corruption.

He assessed the resignation of the direction of Commission for the Prevention of Corruption of the Republic of Slovenia (KPK) and the deterioration of the situation of Slovenia on the international scales related to fight against corruption as a bad sign. However, he pointed out that this estimate is a result of what we ourselves think about the existence of corruption in the country. He agrees with those who believe that corruption is a serious problem, and moreover believes that Slovenia already has in many ways started to deal with this issue: »Things began to move – slowly, yet something has started«.

»We are in a situation, when we have to pay for the sins from the past – we are not to blame for many – yet have to pay from our pockets«, determinedly added the minister.

On the question raised by Mojca Međedović on how he is as a minister and how as a citizen fighting and reacting against corruption, he replied uncompromisingly: »As a minister I have to react exactly the same as a citizen and vice«.

Dr. Gregor Virant pointed out that the public tolerance of corruption is getting lower and stressed that Minister Stepišnik resigned just because of immense public pressure, although he did not do anything illegal.

White Collars` Criminal and Corruption – Priority Tasks of the Police and the National Bureau of Investigation

Dr. Gregor Virant, Minister of the Interior and Public Administration of the Republic of Slovenia said that the White Collars `Criminal and Corruption are the Priority Tasks of the Police and the National Bureau of Investigation: »This year police is investigating the cases and the actions of the banks, which altogether caused more than 340 million Euros of damage«, said Virant and remarked that analysts have been composing the scale of corruptibility, which was published a few days ago, on the basis of assessments of citizens, businesses, etc. »We are becoming more and more critical and negative towards ourselves. I agree that the corruption exists, however it is possible that everything is not that critical«. Of a similar opinion is also H.E. Anunciada Fernandez de Cordova, the Ambassador of Spain to the Republic of Slovenia, while the Deputy U.S. Ambassador David Burger estimated that Slovenians are more irritable than pessimistic. In his belief numerous potential U.S. investors established that always something had gone wrong at arrangements for investments. »In my opinion, it is mainly not due to the incompetence of decision-makers, but unfortunately the reason is probably all about we are discussing today«, he said.

Resignation of Commission for the Prevention of Corruption is an Alarm for the State – Voters have to convince the Policy to Begin to work differently

KPK deputy chairman in resignation, Rok Praprotnik pointed out that all the three of the of the direction of Commission for the Prevention of Corruption have together decided for resignation after a long and careful consideration, which is – for Slovenia unusual and uncommon. The Commission received the public support and that would be everything to say, he explained. Parliamentary parties should see a partner in the commission and strive towards the same goal. However, the proposals of KPK, they have a few days after the resignation submitted to the public and political parties probably will not be realized, believes Praprotnik. They would also, in his opinion not be realized, if the Commission resigned only conditionally, i.e. that it would only announce its resignation in case their proposals would not be considered.

Rok Praprotnik pointed out that we all have encountered conflicts of interest in the same or different level. As a good example, he presented his experience already from the elementary school, when he had a classmate whose father was a professor of mathematics and they were all confident that professors therefore treated him quite differently from other students. This is really a very small example of such a conflict of interests, which shows that we can all find ourselves in a similar situation which we have to adequately control.

Panel discussion speakers also agreed that a conflict of interests in a small country like Slovenia, is inevitable, however, as Rok Praprotnik said, we should know how to manage it.

Rok Praprotnik and Aleš Avbreht agreed that there is a reasonable question of integrity and morality, rather than legislation, which can not cover all aspects of our lives. Rok Praprotnik also explained that the resignation of the Commission for the Prevention of Corruption is the alarm indicating that something must change in this institution, as it has no real power. It amazes him that none of political parties supported them and responded to the 15 recommendations about what should be done in Slovenia to prevent corruption. »Citizens as voters need to convince the policy to begin to work differently. We are not yet doing it for the time being«, added Praprotnik.

Rok Praprotnik concluded with a clear message: »We will be here, but present in a different way. However, I am convinced that in case that the existing legislation does not change, the new KPK Senate will be faced with same difficulties as we were«.

Red Flags for Each Individual Case

Michele Leonardi from IBM Slovenia believes that Slovenia is in its fight against corruption still better than many countries in Eastern Europe, but this is not enough. He also presented the practice of limiting corruption in their company and pointed out that they are quite successful, as they are always trying to prevent corrupt practices in advance. Although everyone in the company knows how to accordingly act, there may come to a conflict of interests, for which we are very attentive and have the so-called red flags for each individual case, where we first check all the facts and details. We do not wait for the scandals and try to solve cases preventively».

»What is legal, is not enough – we have to climb over it. In the document on ethical behavior, which is signed by all employees of IBM, we among other also sign for example that it is not enough just to not to lie – but also that you must not deceive customers or buyers«, said Leonardi .

Conflict of Interests may be a Precondition for Criminal Act

Aleš Avbreht, Avbreht, Zajc & Partners, Law Firm, explained: »There is no striking difference between the conflict of interests in private and public sectors – one can lead to another. Also a conflict of interests is not yet a criminal act by itself, however it can be a precondition for it«.

Avbreht pointed out the criterion of the lowest prices in public procurement: »The criterion of the lowest price should only be applied in the case of procurement for simple products and services, while for complex projects that require development, this is not enough and the other criteria should prevail«.

Internal Audit as an Effective Tool against Corruption

Mag. Mateja Ipavic Modic, Ministry of the Interior, Office of Internal Audit said on her work: »I agree that internal audit should be an effective tool – this is the purpose and mission of our department. However, our success is dependent on certain conditions, which are not often achieved – namely, we must have sufficient staff with appropriate knowledge and experience. Most importantly is that they are people with excellent personal characteristics and high moral personal values. At issuing our audit reports it is essential to have the support of your superior. In this case there is no need to fear that there would come to a conflict of interests at our work«.