Daily news summary
AG Sharpston recommends EU court dismiss Czech lawsuit against new gun directive
Advocate General Eleanor Sharpston of the Court of Justice of the European Union has recommended dismissing a lawsuit filed by the Czech Republic against the EU directive restricting possession of firearms, the court’s press department said on Thursday.
The Czech Republic filed the complaint in 2017, arguing that the set of restrictions damages responsible arms holders and puts more guns on the black market.
Mrs Sharpston said the new EU directive didn’t infringe on the right to property, adding that EU legislation did not guarantee any fundamental right to gun ownership. The recommendation of the advocate general is not legally binding, but it is usually taken into account.
Pirates: Brussels must release audit on EU subsidies to PM Babiš’s Agrofert
The opposition Pirate Party has called on the European Commission to release an audit of Prime Minister Andrej Babiš's alleged conflict of interest regarding EU subsidies to the holding Agrofert.
European Commissioner for Budget and Human Resources Günther Oettinger is due to unveil preliminary results of the audit to the European budget control committee in a closed meeting.
Party chairman Ivan Bartoš said the Pirates have called on the EC to publish findings arising from an audit conducted at Czech ministries regarding EU subsidies for Agrofert amounting to some 2 billion crowns.
If Brussels does not do so, the opposition party will seek a debate in the lower house of Parliament next week on the affair and send an official request to the EC.
Babiš has placed Agrofert into a trust but Transparency International says he remains the beneficial owner.
Bloomberg: NY hedge fund sues Czech billionaire over alleged $1 bn fraud
Czech billionaire Radovan Vítek is being sued for allegedly defrauding a New York hedge fund and a Czech investment firm of more than $1 billion, Bloomberg news reports.
Kingstown Capital Management LP and Investhold Ltd. filed a lawsuit against the Czech real estate mogul in a Manhattan federal court on Wednesday, accusing him of engaging in a racketeering scheme spanning a decade.
They claim Vítek used a web of shell companies and “straw owners” to gain control of a Luxembourg-based real estate development company in which Kingstown Capital held a substantial interest.
He then sold the most valuable assets at “distressed prices” to entities he secretly controlled, the lawsuit alleges.
Vitek is worth about $2.3 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. His company CPI Property Group SA is also named in the suit, filed under the RICO racketeering act, as are J&T Banka, Milada Malá (Vítek’s mother), former Orco CEO Jean-Francois Ott.
Kingstown is owned by two Czech entrepreneurs: Marek Čmejla and Swiss citizen Jiří Diviš.
Zeman signs GDPR-related privacy protection rules into law
Czech President Miloš Zeman has signed into law new privacy protection rules following up the EU's General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and a series of some 40 related amendments.
The lower house of Parliament passed the rules again in mid-March, accepting the Senate's objections to sanctions that regions and municipalities would face for violations. These were deleted from the final version.
MPs originally wanted to lower the maximum fine for small municipalities to 15,000 crowns. In general, the Office for the Personal Data Protection (ÚOOÚ) can impose a fine of up to 10 million crowns for violating privacy protection rules.
Škoda Auto sees slight drop in sales in first quarter of 2019
Czech car maker Škoda Auto sold 307,600 cars in the first quarter of 2019, which is 2.9 percent less than in the same period last year. The drop in sales is mainly caused by a decline in demand on the Chinese market.
At the same time, the company increased its global market share by 3.3 percent over the same period, recording particularly strong growth in Western Europe and Russia. Škoda expects to increase sales again with its latest model Scala ready to hit the market later this month.
Czech ski resorts saw three-percent increase in visitor numbers this season
The number of visitors to Czech ski resorts increased by three percent this year compared to the last winter season, according to data released by the Association of Czech Ski Resorts and Czech Tourism on Thursday. The revenues of Czech ski centres rose by around five percent.
This year’s winter season was four days shorter than the last one, lasting on average 109 days. According to the head of the Association of Czech Ski Resorts, Libor Knot, the last three winter seasons were among of the most successful in recent history. Ahead of the next winter season, operators plan to invest up to 800 million crowns.
Friday is expected to be overcast with a slight chance of rain and snow showers in higher elevations. Daytime highs will be ranging between 6 and 10 degrees Celsius.