Thursday, 14 December 2017

Pirates win enough support for MPs' check of OKD sale

ČTK |
7 December 2017

Prague, Dec 6 (CTK) - The Czech Pirates have won sufficient support among MPs for their plan to set up a parliamentary commission investigating the controversial privatisation of the OKD coal mining firm from 2004, their leader Ivan Bartos told journalists on Wednesday.

A court has also been dealing with the case which attracts public attention since outgoing prime minister Bohuslav Sobotka (Social Democrats, CSSD) is involved in it.

To set up a commission of investigation in the 200-seat lower house, support from at least 40 MPs is needed. The Pirates said they received support from 94 MPs for their plan.

Bartos said they would like the commission to be formed before Christmas and to submit its report on its conclusions within 10 months. Each of the nine parties in the lower house should have one member in the commission, he said.

Pirate deputy chairman Jakub Michalek said MPs from all parties except for the Social Democrats signed the proposal. He nevertheless said even the CSSD might support the proposal in a plenary vote.

The task of the commission would be to check the sale of the state shares, the circumstances under which the state lost its majority stake and the chance to have control over the firm, and the activities of state bodies and officials responsible for property transfers within the privatisation process.

The state lost its majority stake in OKD in 1996. In 2004, the sale of the minority stake was approved by the government of Stanislav Gross (CSSD), in which Sobotka was finance minister. The Karbon Invest group bought the stake for 4.1 billion crowns.

Sobotka claims that OKD was sold for the highest possible price.

A state attorney supervising the case says the price of the stake was at least 9.8 billion crowns then. Due to this, the sale caused high damage to the state, the state attorney says.

Too months after the privatisation, Karbon Invest sold OKD to the RPG Industries of Zdenek Bakala. Various sources put the selling price of the firm at the time at 9-12 billion crowns.

The court charged expert Rudolf Doucha, who set the price of the state stake in OKD, and National Property Fund former deputy heads Pavel Kuta and Jan Skurek who were responsible for the OKD privatisation. All three men plead not guilty.

Michalek said those who were really responsible for the case were not tried in court.

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