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.
E Side Property, which owns the Eden stadium in Prague, home to the Slavia football club, is in trouble — virtually bankrupt and with no money to pay off its debts. It faces insolvency proceedings, bankruptcy or the sale to another investor. In terms of uncovering the murky past of E Side Property, the Czech public would welcome either of the first two scenarios. But more likely, Prague districts will take a bath.
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.
Who is financing the left-wing party through which former Czech PM Jiří Paroubek is looking to stage his political comeback? Where will the ex-chairman of the ČSSD raise the estimated Kč 100 million his new “Left 21” party will need for its campaign to enter Parliament? Thus far, no one has tracked down the sponsors, but the trail is getting hotter, and signs point to Natland Group.
Former Civic Democrat (ODS) transport minister Aleš Řebíček and the Natland financial group combined in a deft one-two when the former was eventually able to get his hands on the celebrated football club Slavia Prague. But that play does not look likely again, with Natland looking comfortable in possession of the Eden stadium.