The opaque brokerage Key Investments — into which nearly Kč 1 billion of public funds has apparently been lost or embezzled — has filed for insolvency and will probably go into liquidation. This does not mean, however, that Key Investments will cease to be a threat to the myriad politicians who profited from deals with the brokerage over the past decade. The potential for blackmail and settling political scores is huge.
The Czech police’s anti-corruption and financial crimes unit ÚOKFK has been investigating criminal complaints relating to the opaque brokerage Key Investments — into which nearly Kč 1 billion of public funds has apparently been lost or embezzled — for more than a year and a half. Finally, some politicians who had a hand in putting taxpayers’ money with the brokerage have been held to account.
The Slovak Poštová banka, controlled by the financial group J&T, is buying up the loans of the chemical plant Spolchemie, the most valuable undertaking of parent company Via Chem Group, from Czech banks. Any transfer of Spolchemie’s property would significantly affect Via Chem Group’s creditors, i.e. Prague 6 and Prague 10, whose blithe politicians set off down the path of risky investment with the dodgy brokerage Key Investments a few years ago.
The battle over the assets of the investment firm Key Investments, through which the administrations of Prague 6, 10 and 13 invested hundreds of millions of crowns, undoubtedly has a number of politicians gripped with fear. The organs of justice have finally begun to take action: in mid-March the Prague 2 district court ordered the confiscation of the assets of the firm Oleochem, Czech Position has learnt.
Exactly a year ago, Czech Position was the first publication to report on the scandal surrounding the Key Investments brokerage, which could be dubbed as the Czech equivalent of the Bernie Madoff case. While the US finance fraudster received a 150-year prison sentence, the main protagonists in the Czech scandal remain free — thanks to the level of morality and expertise in the Czech police and judiciary.
Czech Position has learned that the Center for Economics and Politics (CEP), the think tank founded by President Václav Klaus in 1998 after he stepped down as prime minister, entrusted money to Key Investments, an opaque brokerage under investigation by the central bank — and got most of it back. Meanwhile, two Prague city districts have yet to see huge sums of taxpayers’ money sunk into junk and illiquid bonds returned.
Prime Minister Petr Nečas (ODS) on Wednesday evening accepted the resignation of Trade and Industry Minister Martin Kocourek (also ODS), after it came out that he had attempt to hide his assets from his now ex-wife by consolidating them in bonds worth millions, put in his mother’s name — and invested with the dodgy brokerage Key Investments. He could face charges of fraud.
The Key Investments scandal in which, among others, the names of Czech presidential advisor Jiří Weigl and Environment Minister Tomáš Chalupa appear has taken another twist and is likely to come to a head soon. Now the past has caught up with another Czech cabinet member – Minister of Industry and Trade Martin Kocourek – whose mother invested Kč 16.4 million with the dodgy brokerage.
After eight months of hesitation, the administration of Prague 10, which in 2009 entrusted Kč 200 million of taxpayers’ money to the controversial brokerage Key Investments, has commissioned three independent analyses — by the Expert Institute at VŠE, Grant Thornton Valuations and legal expert Josef Luňák — to make an appraisal of the non-liquid bonds in the firms Via Chem Group and E Side Property.
Paparazzi from the tabloid Aha! have snapped Prague 10 Mayor Milan Richter (Civic Democrats, ODS) and his model wife , businessman and influential lobbyist Roman Janoušek, lobbyist Tomáš Hrdlička, lawyer Robert Pergl, and Marek Dospiva, co-owner and boss of the second largest Czech Investment firm Penta, departing from Prague on a private jet bound for Crete. According to the tabloid’s information, the party is staying at Dospiva’s Kč 270-million villa on the Greek island.