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Czechs seek funds for MUS coal mine privatisation

Coal News - Published on Wed, 03 Jan 2018

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Euro News reported that Czech Republic can seek hundreds of millions in funds seized by Swiss authorities from bank accounts linked to the disputed privatisation of one of the nation’s coal mines two decades ago, Switzerland’s highest court said.

The sale of lignite miner Mostecka Uhelna Spolecnost became one of the biggest Czech post-communist privatisation scandals, among a string of murky disposals of state-owned companies.

Five executives convicted of money laundering and fraud in the case had been accused of using a web of Swiss bank accounts to launder cash linked to the deal. Prosecutors said they used the mining company’s own money to buy its stock before buying the remaining stake cheaply from the Czech government.

Swiss authorities seized more than 660 million Swiss francs (GBP 500.5 million), giving them jurisdiction over the case that delivered its verdicts in 2013.

The Czech Republic had originally been excluded by the Swiss Federal Criminal Court from intervening as a private party after missing judicial filing deadlines relating to the case, despite saying it had been damaged by the MUS deal.

The Swiss Federal Tribunal on Friday directed the Swiss criminal court to now take up the Czech claims.

The tribunal’s judges wrote that “The Czech Republic should have been allowed to intervene because it had made a claim as a damaged party that it was entitled to be reimbursed money that had been seized.”

On Friday, Prague said it would review the Swiss judgement to evaluate its next steps.

The Czech Finance Ministry said in a statement that “The Czech Republic succeeded at the Swiss Supreme Court with its complaint and will be admitted as a damaged party.” The Czech Finance Ministry added that “The Czech Republic will therefore claim damages in the dispute.”

The tribunal, in Lausanne, also said its judges had rejected most of the appeals lodged by the five former MUS managers seeking to challenge their convictions four years ago in which they received prison sentences of 36 months to 52 months and financial penalties.

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Posted By : Nanda Koijam on Wed, 03 Jan 2018
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