Thursday, 17 January 2019

Respekt: Panama Papers reveal PPF owner Kellner's anonymous firm

ČTK |
11 May 2016

Prague, May 10 (CTK) - The Panama Papers have revealed that the PPF financial group of Petr Kellner, now the richest Czech, founded Cadogan Telecommunications, an anonymous firm that took a controversial loan from the collapsing IPB bank in 1999, weekly Respekt has written in its latest issue.
In 1999, the large Czech bank IPB was on the verge of bankruptcy and the world of mobile phones was expanding, new networks and transmitters were built for them and the company Telekomunikacni montaze Praha (TMP) had in fact a monopoly for their construction in the Czech Republic, Respekt writes.
A totally unknown firm seated in the Cayman Islands, Cadogan Telecommunications, bought the successful TMP for 1.2 billion crowns and it took a loan from the IPB bank to pay the sum. In 2000, the Czech central bank made a thorough analysis of the bankrupt IPB that showed that IPB should not have given any loan to Cadogan because the company was an empty shell with the sole purpose of buying the TMP, Respekt writes.
Only the Panama Papers showed that Kellner's PPF established Cadogan for its own needs, it adds.
It is unclear why the PPF decided to buy the TMP through an anonymous firm, Respekt writes.
PPF spokesman Zuzana Migdalova told the magazine that this question cannot be answered in any way because the issue is too old and the PPF archives do not include information on it.
Possible explanations might be that PPF had too many loans from the IPB bank and it could not get a new one, or that the anonymous firm was a way of stripping the sinking IPB of money, Respekt writes.
According to the Panama Papers, Cadogan's debt was taken over by the CP financni sluzby firm after the central bank declared that the loan for Cadogan was at variance with the banking law. CP financni sluzby was owned by the Ceska pojistovna insurance company whose majority shareholders were the PPF and IPB. It remains unknown whether the loan was repaid or not, Respekt writes.
The explanation may still be found in the Panama Papers, which include hundreds of documents related to Kellner's firm. The file contains a number of payment orders for unspecified services signed by Kellner. According to experts, the fact that Kellner paid several hundred thousand dollars to the Mossack Fonseca law firm indicates that the lawyers could have mediated transactions worth many millions of dollars for him.
Respekt writes that it has been dealing with the case together with the public Czech Television (CT) and daily Lidove noviny (LN).
The recent Panama Papers scandal has revealed that many people from politics and business hide their profits in tax havens. The tens of thousands of persons and companies, whom Mossack Fonseca helped establish offshore firms, include 283 Czechs, according to previous information.
Respekt writes that the Panama Papers do not only show robberies and money laundering, but also about an unknown parallel world of finances, in which all rules can be avoided.
The trick that PPF used need not be unlawful and even if it were, courts and police can do nothing about it because the case is time-barred, Respekt writes.
($1=23.717 crowns)

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