Among other reasons, due to its location and territorial proximity, Slovakia is one of Poland’s most important economic partners. Polish entrepreneurs are increasingly willing to cooperate with Slovak companies every year. Due to the requirement of due diligence in selecting a contractor and carrying out transactions, especially with foreign entities, Polish business owners are obliged to thoroughly verify their Slovak contractor in order to avoid civil, criminal, or tax liability. How to conduct business intelligence and verify a company from Slovakia?
Economic cooperation with Slovakia
According to data from the Ministry of Development and Technology, Polish-Slovak trade turnover in 2021 amounted to EUR 12.619 billion, which means an increase of 23% compared to 2020. Polish exports amounted to EUR 7.255 billion (+21% YoY), while imports amounted to EUR 5.363 billion (+27% YoY). Polish exports to Slovakia accounted for 2.5% of global Polish exports, while imports from Slovakia accounted for 1.9% of global imports. In 2021, Slovakia was Poland’s 10th largest export partner and 12th largest import partner. Cumulative Slovak investments in Poland in 2020 amounted to over EUR 656 million. According to predictions, particularly promising areas for further cooperation are in the energy sector, automotive industry, construction, modern technology, and agri-food industry.
National and EU Sanctions
For over a year, Polish companies have been even more cautious about cooperating with foreign, including Slovak, business partners. The reason is the proximity of Slovakia to the area of the Russian-Ukrainian conflict, at the southwestern border of Ukraine. In connection with the outbreak of the war, the European Union has imposed 9 packages of sanctions on Russia until the end of 2022. Slovakia and Poland also impose their additional sanctions, which include the most important persons in Russia, as well as companies from this country and Belarus. Trading goods and services with Russian and Belarusian companies is prohibited. Violating this ban can result in a financial penalty of up to 20 million PLN and up to 15 years of imprisonment for Polish entrepreneurs. However, Russian and Belarusian entrepreneurs have learned to circumvent international sanctions by using, among other things, complicated holding structures created in other countries, where it is difficult to detect the real ownership structure. How can you check a company from Slovakia to avoid sanctions?
National and EU Registers
Detailed information on the type of economic transactions with Belarus and Russia covered by the EU ban can be found on the websites of the European Council: https://www.consilium.europa.eu/. In the Official Journal of the EU at the address: https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?uri=CELEX%3A02014R0269-20220721, there is a list of persons and entities subject to sanctions. The Polish Ministry of Internal Affairs and Administration also maintains an up-to-date register of entities subject to sanctions, where you can check the contractor, its connections, reasons for inclusion in the register, and the sanctions applied: https://www.gov.pl/web/mswia/lista-osob-i-podmiotow-objetych-sankcjami.
Therefore, the first step in checking a company from Slovakia is to look for it in one of the above registers. The Regulation (EU) 2022/576 of the European Council of 8 April 2022 amending Regulation (EU) No 833/2014 concerning restrictive measures in relation to actions by Russia undermining the situation in Ukraine is also a source of useful information.
How to check a contractor from Slovakia?
Verification of a contractor can be entrusted to a professional economic intelligence agency, which deals with such orders on a daily basis. A private detective in Warsaw, Poznan, Wroclaw or other cities will know how to obtain the necessary information to verify the current or future contractor.
The most important way to verify the contractor and their possible connections to Belarus or Russia is to determine the entity that is their ultimate beneficiary and then check whether it is listed on the aforementioned sanctions list maintained by the Ministry of Interior and Administration. These determinations can be made in the Central Register of Ultimate Beneficial Owners maintained by the Minister of Finance: https://crbr.podatki.gov.pl/adcrbr/#/wyszukaj
Direct inquiry to the contractor
If there are difficulties in determining the ownership structure of a business partner using available registers, another method of checking them within economic intelligence activities is to directly ask them to confirm who their ultimate beneficial owner is. Of course, to verify the response, you can ask the Slovak entrepreneur to provide documents confirming their declarations.
A publicly available way to obtain information about the contractor is to search the resources of the Internet. Verifying a company, checking if they have a website, what opinions are there about them, and perhaps we will come across some publication about them. You can ask other companies that have dealt with this contractor for references.
If we do not want to do this ourselves for certainty, we can entrust a research detective agency specializing in professional economic intelligence. Because there are many more sources of information than just the Internet. For example, you can contact the Embassy of the Republic of Poland in Bratislava with a request for information on a specific entity, whether complaints from other entrepreneurs have already reached them, or maybe according to the knowledge of the diplomatic mission, the Slovak contractor has a bad reputation? Similar information can be provided by Polish-Slovak trade chambers.
In the Public Information Bulletin of the Ministry of Entrepreneurship and Technology, as the minister responsible for the economy, maintains a register of representations of foreign entrepreneurs. If we find the representation of our contractor in this register, we can assume that they are still in existence and conducting business.
Another such register in which you can check your contractor is the European Union VAT taxpayers register and the EORI register. Companies and individuals wishing to conduct commercial activity within the Union must use the EORI number as their identification number in all customs procedures.
Slovak registers of entrepreneurs
How to check a contractor from Slovakia? The best way is to use the official Slovak register offered by the Ministry of Justice of the Slovak Republic, called “Obchodný register” (https://www.orsr.sk/). It is a public register concerning companies and other entities conducting business activities in Slovakia. It is run by district courts as registration courts at the seat of the regional court. Access to the register and obtaining extracts is subject to a fee, although the court may provide a copy of a document submitted to the register in electronic form free of charge upon request by the applicant. It is also possible to obtain a business activity extract, a copy of a submitted document or confirmation that a given document has not been submitted to the register of documents free of charge through the central register of business entities, business activity registers and company registers (the Business Register Interconnection System – BRIS).
The search is available in Slovak and English and can be done by:
- name, company name;
- identification number;
- registered office address;
- reference number;
- first and last name of a natural person.
In addition, there is the official website of the Slovak Ministry of Justice, https://www.justice.gov.sk/, which provides access to judgments and court decisions.
The website https://foaf.sk/ provides a commercial registry called “foaf.sk”, which provides information about companies and entrepreneurs. It also presents their relationships, economic results, financial reports, balance sheets, profit and loss accounts, debts, etc. The website aggregates data from the Commercial Register of the Slovak Republic, Slovak tax authorities, Commercial Journal, Financial Reporting Register, Social Insurance Agency, European Union Insurance Company, Financial Administration, Public Procurement Journal, and other databases. This information comes from publicly available sources, such as public administration information systems accessible to the general public. At the same time, foaf.sk uses algorithms to search for and display deeper relationships between people and companies in Slovakia. Thanks to foaf.sk, anyone can search the social network of Slovak companies and entrepreneurs and discover relationships between them. The name FOAF stands for “Friend Of A Friend” and refers to the phenomenon of “small worlds” networks.
Another Slovak registry of entrepreneurs, available on the website http://vorsr.sk/, provides lists of individual registered companies. Searching is done by company name or the name of a legal representative, identification number, location, or number of the act. Additionally, the registry provides infographics showing the company and its connections with Slovakia and the Czech Republic.
The Industrial Property Office of the Slovak Republic is a central government administration body responsible for industrial property protection. Its official website https://wbr.indprop.gov.sk/ includes an external database with basic and advanced search options. Here you can search for patents, designs, trademarks, utility models, European patents with SK designation, and additional protection certificates.
It is worth checking a counterparty carefully
Before making a transaction or cooperating with a counterparty from Slovakia, it is worth conducting an economic investigation and checking it thoroughly, especially whether it is related to Belarus or Russia. Violation of sanctions imposed on trade with these countries may result in a financial penalty of up to PLN 20 million and imprisonment for 3 to 15 years.
Do you already know how to check a company from Slovakia? If not, or if you need to find more detailed information, we can help you. Please contact us.