ERNEST Valko, a prominent Bratislava lawyer, was taken into police custody yesterday together with businessman Ladislav Rehák.
Rehák was arrested last week in another case but was later released from custody. He is being investigated, along with his two sons and another man, for the alleged blackmail of a former company accountant.
The new arrest is also connected with blackmail. According to sources contacted by The Slovak Spectator, Valko's law firm represented Rehák in his attempt to purchase land in the Záhorie area in the West of Slovakia, while another firm, Ravi Slovakia, did the actual land acquistions. Sources say that the firm cheated Rehák of about Sk15 million in money it received for the land from Rehák but did not pay to the vendors. The firm was later required to sign an affidavit in front of a public notary acknowledging a Sk15 million debt, but its owners, the Vittek family, allegedly now say they were threatened.
Police are expected to provide more information on the charges at a press conference today, but have so far imposed an information embargo on the case.
Police summoned Valko to attend a hearing yesterday as he was getting into his car in front of his law office in Bratislava, while Rehák was arrested at his company offices. Police then carried out searches of both buildings.
Valko’s arrest comes as a surprise to all who knew him. In the recent general elections, he was a candidate for the tiny Civic Conservative Party (OKS). Valko is a former chief justice of the Constitutional Court under the Czechoslovak Federation, and for several years now has been active as a private lawyer.
In the past he has represented several state institutions in court, including the Interior Ministry and the Cabinet Office, as well as the SDKÚ party and the FNM state privatization agency.