The Ostrava branch of the anti-corruption police last week began a criminal review into the role of former Social Democrat (ČSSD) Prime Minister Stanislav Gross and his then Finance Minister Bohuslav Sobotka, the current ČSSD chairman, in the 2004 privatization of 46 percent of OKD coal company for a fraction of the assessed value, the Právo daily reported Tuesday.
“I can confirm that as regards the privatization of OKD action toward criminal proceedings are underway,” said anti-corruption police chief Tomáš Martinec, as cited by Právo. Authorities can now call all parties to the transaction in for questioning, and, with the permission of the courts, install wiretaps and conduct other surveillance, as well as search the offices, bank accounts and financial filings for evidence.
Police began looking into the case in March, following on two criminal complaints; the first was filed by Roman Macháček, chairman of the Association of Tenants of Byty OKD.cz, who live in apartment buildings that once exclusively housed workers of the coal company, and are now owned by RPG Real Estate Group.
Macháček presented the claim based on an appraisal by “big four” consultancy Ernst & Young, which valued the minority stake in OKD at Kč 24 billion — nearly six times the amount (Kč 4.1 billion) the Gross government sold it for to Karbon Invest (owned by Viktor Koláček and Petr Otava). His criminal complaint — against an unknown defendant — came a few days after one filed by Jana Volfová of the Suverenita party, in which she directly named the ČSSD politicians Gross and Sobotka.