published: 14.10.2013, 16:22 | updated: 14.10.2013 16:25:27
Prague - Antonin Kolacek, Czech MUS coal-mining company´s former co-owner whom a Swiss court sent to prison for fraud along with another four MUS managers on October 10, will begin his strong public defence in his case, he told CTK today.
He said he is not going to give in.
Kolacek said he and the other convicted managers made a mistake when they mostly did not talk about the case. He said he would appeal the verdict.
All the convicts dismiss any guilt and they can appeal the verdict within 30 days.
Like the other convicted, Kolacek did not answer the questions of the Swiss court in Bellinzona, which convicted the men of fraud and money laundering in connection with the "wild" privatisation of MUS and sent them to prison. They caused the damage of some two billion crowns to the Czech Republic, according to the Swiss verdict. Kolacek received the highest sentence of four years and four months in prison.
"There is no other option for us now and we´ll speak up," Kolacek told CTK.
He said their case was used as exemplary.
"It is noteworthy that it were us from the whole of the Czech privatisation, from all the Czech money deposited in Switzerland," Kolacek said.
Kolacek indicated that Prague lobbyist Roman Janousek had money in Switzerland, but nobody checked him because Janousek had political connections.
Kolacek said some members of the then Czech government of Milos Zeman knew that he and his partners were behind the Appian Group that bought MUS from the state in 1999.
He said he believed it was a mistake that they had not openly said who was Appian Group then.
"We told it unofficially to politicians and journalists. Many knew it, but they played the game with us, a game about capitalism," Kolacek said.
In the late 1990s, the Appian Group was officially a company representing U.S. investors who later turned out to be fictitious, while Kolacek and his partners were the real owners.
The four other managers convicted are Marek Cmejla, Jiri Divis, Oldrich Klimecky and Petr Kraus.
MUS was founded in 1993 through the merger of three former state mines. In 1998, the Czech state lost control of the firm when the Appian Group bought MUS's freely available shares through the Investenergy company. In July 1999, Zeman's government sold the remaining state stake in the mines to Appian for 650 million crowns.
Both Swiss and Czech prosecutors concluded that the price was unreasonably low.
In July 2005 the Swiss police started investigating the suspicion that money was illegally taken out from MUS and that it was allegedly laundered in Switzerland afterwards. Swiss authorities blocked about 600 million Swiss francs (an equivalent of about 12.5 billion crowns) in the suspects' bank accounts.
Kolacek today pointed to the high compensation the Swiss prosecutors proposed for later MUS owners, Vasil Bobela, Petr Pudil and Pavel Tykac.
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