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.
After nearly half a year of foot-dragging, Prague Mayor Bohuslav Svoboda finally decided to launch an internal investigation as to how the councils of the Prague 6, 10 and 13 districts have been investing huge sums of public money through the dubious brokerage Key Investments. But a source from the leadership of an affected district says inspectors are clearly not interested in digging very deep.
Transport Minister Aleš Řebíček (Civic Democrats, ODS) has also a 33 percent stake in the indebted Slavia football club, becoming the second-largest shareholder after Natland Group, which stepped in earlier to settle some of the club’s debts — like back pay to the footballers. Meanwhile, Slavia on Tuesday got its premier league license from the ČMFS, but ENIC insists it never relinquished its stake.
Slavia fans have been fixed on the investment company Natland Group, which says it will ensure that the club receives a license to play in the Extraliga — the top Czech league — in the 2011-2012 season, and resolve its considerable financial problems. But there’s only two weeks left before the Czech and Moravian Football Association (ČMFS) is due to rule on Slavia’s license.
Fans of Slavia Prague FC can breathe a collective sigh of relief: Next week a strong investor will provide enough finances to meet the demands of the Czech and Moravian Football Association (ČMFS) for Slavia to retain its license to play in the top division in Czech football. The cash injection is a first step toward gaining ownership, one of the investor’s representatives has told Czech Position.
Miloš Havránek and Petr Šrámek, the owners of the accountancy firm Bene Factum, are probably cursing the day they met Michal Babák from Public Affairs. The parliamentary deputy’s claim that he has a 15 percent stake in their company has put them on the spot. Meanwhile the accountancy firm seems to have carried on some work for some interesting companies, including those in the Via Chem Group owned by the controversial entrepreneur Petr Sisák.
Will Slavia be playing in the top Czech football league next season? On the pitch, Prague’s oldest professional football club has seven matches left to play and, while it hasn’t been an epic season, the team looks to be safe from relegation. Nevertheless, in six weeks time the license tribunal will confirm the teams to play in the Gambrinus Extraliga next season, and an unpaid debt of Kč 110 million could spell relegation to even the third division.
Following similar steps by Prague 6 and Prague 13, Prague 10 has demanded the brokerage Key Investments to return money it invested. Together these administrations have entrusted more than Kč 650 million to Key Investments. Prague 10, however, has asked only for its bonds from the Via Chem Group to be sold, choosing to keep its shares in E Side Property.
The Education Ministry (MŠMT) has launched a Kč 60 million promotion of EU funds to strengthen Czech science without having signed a proper contract. The first ad on Czech Television (ČT), produced by a company that doesn’t even have a webpage, cost some Kč 250,000 — nearly four times the market rate. The ads themselves are also uninspired, and fail to highlight exciting developments in the field.
Via Key Investments, several Prague districts are financing activities of E Side Property, which owns the stadium where Slavia play. Czech Position has learned that the football club is also connected to the dodgy brokerage — which is behind a contested share capital increase in the club’s operator — and now ENIC Football Management, Slavia’s “true owner,” is fighting to get the club to pay back loans.