published: 11.10.2013, 17:29 | updated: 11.10.2013 17:41:50
Prague - The Czech Republic has a chance to gain back the money it lost in connection with the privatisation of the Mostecka uhelna spolecnost (MUS) coal mining firm thanks to the Thursday verdict by the Swiss court in Bellinzona, the Finance Ministry told CTK today.
According to some information, the damage incurred by the Czech state is minimally two billion crowns.
"We will definitely use the verdict to gain a maximum of money for the state treasury," outgoing Foreign Minister Jan Fischer said.
He said it is surprising that the foreign court was able to give a verdict in the case within two years while the Czech Republic has been unable to take the case to court even after 12 years of investigation.
The Swiss court decided that a criminal offence was committed, but it is necessary to wait for the other part of the verdict concerning the damage, the ministry said.
It said this will be decisive for the ministry´s steps.
The Swiss court is to issue the other part of the verdict by the year´s end. It will either make a decision on the restitution of a part of the property detained in Switzerland for the benefit of the Czech Republic, or on its confiscation.
In this case the Czech Republic would be claiming the means in new proceedings before the same court. Other alternatives are not reportedly ruled out either.
The Bellinzona court ruled on Thursday that the former MSU managers, Jiri Divis, Antonin Kolacek, Marek Cmejla, Petr Kraus and Oldrich Klimecky, are guilty of frauds and money laundering.
It imposed prison sentences ranging from one year and four months to four years and four months in prison.
The convicts dismiss any guilt and they can appeal the verdict within 30 days.
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 checking 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).
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