Parliamentary commission to file criminal complaint against four former ministers for their role in OKD privatisation

OKD (Foto: Martin Knitl, Archiv des Tschechischen Rundfunks)

The lower house‘s Investigatory Commission on OKD announced on Tuesday that it has decided to file a criminal complaint against four former government ministers for their role in the privatisation of the Silesian coal mining joint-stock company Ostravsko-karvinské doly (OKD). Among them is the former prime minister Bohuslav Sobotka. According to the commission, the privatisation and subsequent events were in contradiction to the interests of the state.

Photo: Martin Knitl / Czech Radio
In 2004 the government of Stanislav Gross authorised the sale of the state’s 45.88 percent stake in OKD to Carbon Invest for CZK 4.1 billion. Just two months later, the company shares were then sold on to the investment group RPG Industries led by Czech billionaire Zdeněk Bakala.

According to the state prosecution office, the sale of OKD, the largest employer in the coal-rich Moravian Silesian Region, was heavily under-priced, with the real evaluation closer to CZK 9.8 billion.

On Thursday, a special investigatory commission of the Chamber of Deputies, which was tasked with looking into the OKD case, announced it will file a criminal complaint against 14 individuals involved in the sale, including four former government ministers as well as businessman Zdeněk Bakala and Carbon Invest co-owner Viktor Koláček.

The commission’s 300-page proposal for the final report of the Chamber of Deputies on the case, states that the privatisation of OKD and the subsequent events seem to have been accompanied by incompetent or intentionally unlawful actions by certain politicians, officials, businessmen and their lawyers. These, the proposal goes on to say, were in contradiction to the interests of the state and its citizens.

In addition to the investigation of the sale of the state’s minority stake in OKD, the 20-month long commission investigation also looked into the fulfilment of obligations by the acquirer of shares under the 2004 contract and the causes of OKD's subsequent bankruptcy in 2016.

Lukáš Černohorský of the Pirate Party, who chaired the investigation, told journalists on Tuesday that the commission will file criminal complaints against former industry and trade Minister Milan Urban, as well as the former minister of finance Bohuslav Sobotka, for their role in the privatisation of the state-owned minority share.

Furthermore, Vladimír Dlouhý, who was industry and trade minister between 1996-1997 and the former minister for national property and privatisation Jiří Skalický, will also face a criminal complaint from the commission in connection with their role in the state losing its majority share in OKD during the 1990s.