A Swiss court handed down prison sentences to five Czechs on Thursday for asset stripping, fraud, money-laundering and breach of trust, in a case surrounding the privatization of the Czech Republic’s second largest coal mining company, Mostecká Uhelna. The former managers, who received between 16 and 52 months in prison, used the company’s own assets to buy a majority stake in the firm, diverting some of the money into Swiss bank accounts. The Swiss authorities launched an investigation into the matter in 2011. Two of the defendants – Petr Kraus and Antonín Koláček – were detained in court, though the others were not present at the sentencing. The sixth defendant in the case, the 86-year-old Belgian citizen Jacques de Groote, will have to pay a fine for his involvement. Charges are still pending against the Czech former managers in the Czech Republic, though they may have to be dropped given the Swiss court’s decision.
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