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Swiss court begins hearing major Czech privatization case

Issues

A Swiss court on Monday began hearing a major Czech privatization case, Radio Praha reported on its website. Six former managers of the Czech coal company Mostecká uhelná (MUS) face accusations of money laundering and other crimes they allegedly committed during the privatization of the firm in the 1990s. The complicated case has been running for years, and is also prosecuted in the Czech Republic. Six Czechs and one Belgian face charges of money laundering, fraud, forgery of documents and other crimes related to the privatization of the coal company. Swiss prosecutors believe that the company’s former managers and their associates used MUS’ own assets in their 1999 takeover of the firm. The Czech police began investigating the case in 2003 but dropped it five years later citing lack of evidence. The authorities in Switzerland however intercepted some of the diverted funds, and seized around CZK 14 billion (€5.4 billion) in Swiss bank accounts.

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