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Piešťany Spa Director Karol M. Charged with Fraud

A former director of Devín Bank has been charged with fraud in connection with offenses linked to the privatisation of the Piešťany Spa, Chief Interior Ministry Investigator Jaroslav Ivor announced April 12.

Karol M., who is also the director general of the Vadium Group and chairman of its board of directors, is alleged, in cooperation with other individuals, to have unlawfully transferred 51% of the Piešťany spa to an employees' joint stock company, Spoločnosť Zamestnancov Pieštanských Kúpeľov (SZPK), and then to Vadium Group. Through this act, the national privatization agency National Property Fund (FNM) suffered damages amounting to 602.43 million crowns or more, Ivor said.

According to the Interior Ministry, SZPK bought 51 percent of SLK shares from the FMN for 302,429 million crowns on March 28, 1996. Ivor revealed that this purchase took place although the FNM could have chosen a more lucrative offer. The shares were later transferred to Vadium Group Bratislava.

The charges against Karol M. have not yet been served, as the businessman fled the country after a recording of a phone call apparently confirming former SIS director Lexa's participation in the 1997 abduction of Michal Kováč Jr., aired on private Radio Twíst. Ivor did not rule out that the police might turn to Interpol to help bring Karol M. before the investigator.

Karol M. is alleged to have organized and coordinated the activities of as of yet an unspecified number of FNM employees, members of the FNM executive committee, the FNM presidium, the FNM Board of Directors, and also FNM shareholders, Ivor said.

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