published: 13.10.2013, 15:57 | updated: 13.10.2013 16:00:11
Prague - The investigation of why the Czech Republic did not join in time the Swiss penal proceedings to seek compensation in the case of the MUS coal mining company's privatisation would be completed within six months, Supreme State Attorney Pavel Zeman said in a TV debate today.
The finance and justice ministries were also criticised for not having joined the lawsuit. Both ministries denied any mistakes.
The Supreme State Attorney´s Office announced two years ago that the Czech Republic had lost the possibility to claim compensation in the penal proceedings about the MUS case in Switzerland.
The Swiss authorities repeatedly asked the Czech Republic in the past whether it would like to join the penal proceedings as the aggrieved party. However, the Czech authorities did not react in time.
Yet the Finance Ministry says the Czech Republic still has a chance of gaining back the money it lost in connection with the MUS privatisation.
In the Questions of Vaclav Moravec TV debate today, Zeman did not want to answer the question who was to blame for the fact that the Czech Republic had not joined the Swiss penal proceedings.
He pointed out that the investigation into this matter was still underway. He admitted that its results would be available within six months.
Zeman also commented on the future of the Czech prosecution in the MUS case.
He said Czech state attorneys would be able to halt the prosecution of the MUS former managers and owners if it became apparent from a valid Swiss verdict that the acts for which they were prosecuted in the Czech Republic wee the same of which they were convicted in Switzerland. Otherwise their prosecution in the Czech Republic would continue, he added.
The Czech attorneys will decide to halt the prosecution only after the Swiss verdict takes effect, that is after the Swiss appeal court´s decision, Zeman said.
The Swiss court in Bellinzona convicted five Czech MUS managers, Jiri Divis, Kolacek, Marek Cmejla, Petr Kraus and Oldrich Klimecky, of fraud and money laundering in connection with the "wild" privatisation of MUS and sent them to prison from one year and four months to four years and four months on Thursday.
They caused the damage of some two billion crowns to the Czech Republic, according to the Swiss verdict.
The managers deny the charges.
Kolacek, Cmejla, Divis, Klimecky and Kraus were accused of insider trading in the Czech Republic in June 2012.
They allegedly transferred over three billion crowns out of the MUS firm for the purchase of its shares from the Czech Republic.
Last October they were also accused of fraud in connection with the MUS privatisation in 1999. According to the indictment, they acquired underpriced shares from the Czech Republic, causing the damage of over 1.6 billion crowns to the state.
Zeman said the Czech judiciary was not able to investigate the MUS case in the 1990s due to the lack of personnel and experience with similar cases. Besides, it did not have the necessary information from abroad at its disposal then, he added.
Zeman today also praised cooperation with Switzerland. He noted that Czech attorneys cooperated with their Swiss colleagues in the investigation into the privatisation of Skoda Plzen, west Bohemia, as well.
MUS was founded in November 1993 through the merger of three former state mines. In 1998, under the caretaker government of Josef Tosovsky, the Czech state lost control of the firm when control of the mines was taken by the U.S. Appian Group firm that bought MUS's freely available shares through Investenergy company.
In July 1999, Milos Zeman's (Social Democrats, CSSD) government sold the remaining state stake in the mines to Investenergy for 650 million crowns.
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.
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