Christmas celebrations in the Czech Republic this year were overshadowed by tragedy. The death of 13 miners killed in a methane explosion at a coal mine in the north-eastern part of the country dominated news coverage over the holidays, as did the deadly tsunami in Indonesia. The victims were remembered in masses over Christmas and people donated money to accounts in aid of the victims.
The Prague Municipal Court has opened the case of the fraudulent
privatization of the Czech Republic’s largest coal mining company
All five former managers charged appeared at Monday’s hearing. Their lawyers pointed out that all of them have already been convicted in the same case in a Swiss court of law.
The Czech judiciary opened the case for formal reasons, since none of those convicted have so far served their sentences.
The Czech Republic participated in the trial in Switzerland as a damaged party. The Czech finance ministry is seeking compensation for damages caused to the state. The damage incurred to the Czech Republic has been estimated at over two billion crowns.
The black coal mining company OKD, which underwent reorganization following
insolvency procedures in 2016, is making a profit and could keep its
Karviná mine in operation until 2030, Prime Minister Andrej Babiš said
following talks with the company’s management on Thursday.
The reorganization plan envisaged a gradual phase-out of mining in the region by 2023, but the prime minister said the company was in good shape and making a healthy profit and could continue to operate until 2030.
A final decision is to be made by the end of the year.
Former prime ministers Bohuslav Sobotka and Jiří Rusnok, as well as
former industry minister Miroslav Grégr have been questioned by a
parliamentary committee investigating the privatization of the OKD coal
Bohuslav Sobotka was finance minister at the time of its privatization and he in particular has been a target of criticism for the controversial sell-off of state shares in the company. The company was acquired by the firm Karbon Invest in 2004 and later sold to billionaire businessman Zdeněk Bakala. It later went bankrupt.
Sobotka said the sale to Karbon Invest had been perfectly in order, adding that he was later taken aback by the re-sale of the company to Bakala.
A reorganisation plan for the bankrupt coal mining company OKD has won
court backing. The Supreme Court in Olomouc on Tuesday rejected an appeal
by Citibank against the approval of the plan, which was carried out by
creditors in August and was previously confirmed by a regional court.
OKD creditors including Citibank have filed claims of over CZK 20 billion in court, but the administrator has rejected claims for most of that amount. OKD continues to mine coal and employs around 9,500 people.
Citibank, which like OKD’s mother company NWR, appealed against the reorganisation plan is the firm’s biggest unrecognised creditor.
Tomáš Ježek, economist and former Czech deputy and Minister of
Privatisation, has died at the age of 77, the Czech News Agency reported on
Wednesday. The news was confirmed by his friends and former prime minister
Ježek, along with former president Václav Klaus and economist Dušan Tříska, was one of the co-authors of the Czech coupon privatisation policy. He was also one of the founding members of Civic Forum, and later served for six years as a deputy in parliament for the Civic Democratic Party.
US based bank Citibank has appealed against an insolvency and reorganisation plan put together for the Ostrava hard coal mining company OKD. Citibank’s appeal follows a refusal by the insolvency administrator Lee Louda to recognise its claims to billions of crowns in claimed debts from the mining company. OKD has been in bankruptcy administration since last year. A court in Olomouc will have to rule whether the appeal can be accepted. Citibank is OKD’s biggest creditor and claims it is owed 17 billion crowns. A reorganisation plan is seeking a gradual end of mining in the region will would safeguard thousands of jobs in the short term and ease the transformation of the regional economy.