International gang robbed Czech banks of CZK 1.4 billion

Photo: Khalil Baalbaki / Czech Radio

An international gang has reportedly robbed two Czech banks and an insurance company of CZK 1.4 billion, using fictitious steel trades, the Czech News Agency reported.

The Czech police has been investigating the case in cooperation with their colleagues from Great Britain, where the main perpetrators who controlled the gang are being prosecuted, Jaroslav Ibehej, spokesman of the National Centre for Combating Organised Crime told the agency.

Three Czech citizens and one foreign national have been charged in connection with the case.

According to Czech Radio, they are representatives of two Prague-based firms Balli Steel Czech and Swiss Forfait, which are linked to the British-Iranian holding Balli Group.
Mr Ibehej told the Czech News Agency that the perpetrators pretended to carry out international steel trades which were paid via bills of exchange.

They submitted documents on these fictitious transactions to financial institutions in the Czech Republic, from which they received hundreds of millions of crowns on the basis of these documents. Altogether they carried out more than twenty such transactions.

The detectives from the National Centre for Combatting Organized Crime have been investigating the case since 2013 and the prosecution was launched in 2017.

“The crime was to create fictitious customer-supplier relationships that copied real-life trades of foreign companies,” Mr. Ibehej told the Czech News Agency.

Czech Republic and one foreigner – had a very good knowledge of international transactions, bill of exchange transactions as well as a knowledge of the documents required for overseas transport,” he added.

According to Czech Radio, the money provided by the Czech financial institutions for the fictitious transactions could have ended up in Iran.

The investigation file has already been handed over to the supervising public prosecutor of the High Public Prosecutor’s Office in Prague, Mr. Ibehej said.

The accused are facing prosecution for credit and insurance fraud and could receive up to a ten-year prison sentences.