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Tycoon free again

TYCOON Jozef Majský, who stands accused of setting up an organised crime group during the collapse of unlicensed deposit companies that deprived thousands of Slovaks of their life-long savings, was unexpectedly released from custody.
Majský, the main character behind many success stories in the 1990s, was behind bars for almost 22 months.
Prosecutor General, Dobroslav Trnka, said that legal reasons no longer existed to keep one of the richest men in Slovakia in custody, after the investigation of the collapse of unlicensed saving companies, BMG Invest and Horizont Slovakia, concluded recently.


Left: Ministers puzzled by the prosecutor's decision to free contoversial businessman Majský. Right: The tycoon before his imprisonment
photo: TASR

TYCOON Jozef Majský, who stands accused of setting up an organised crime group during the collapse of unlicensed deposit companies that deprived thousands of Slovaks of their life-long savings, was unexpectedly released from custody.

Majský, the main character behind many success stories in the 1990s, was behind bars for almost 22 months.

Prosecutor General, Dobroslav Trnka, said that legal reasons no longer existed to keep one of the richest men in Slovakia in custody, after the investigation of the collapse of unlicensed saving companies, BMG Invest and Horizont Slovakia, concluded recently.

Justice Minister, Daniel Lipšic, and Interior Minister, Vladimír Palko, did not hide their disappointment at seeing Majský walk free from the Košice penitentiary where the magnate was kept to prevent witness tampering.

"It was the prosecution that proposed the prolongation of the preventive custody a few months ago. It is quite strange now that the same prosecution office says the reasons for such custody have elapsed," Lipšic told news wire TASR.

Another reason to keep Majský, who also is accused of fraud, behind bars were concerns that he might flee the country, something he has already attempted once.

In mid-October 2002, the police detained Majský at the Austrian border when he tried to flee the country in a car driven by his former wife, Movement for a Democratic Slovakia deputy, Diana Dubovská.

Spokesman for the Justice Ministry, Richard Fides, told the press that fears about Majský's escape were justified as the investigation has been completed and the tycoon now has to go to court.

Palko, who along with the investigators, learned about the tycoon's release from the media, said he does not quite understand the motives of the prosecutor general in approving the decision of the Košice Regional Prosecution.

"Thousands of people will not understand it and I do not understand it either," stated the minister.

Jozef Šátek, head of the Office for the Fight Against Corruption, which was in charge of the investigation, was puzzled over Trnka's decision as well. He said that although the investigation has been completed it can still be compromised as the original reasons for keeping Majský in custody continue to be salient.

BMG Invest and Horizont Slovakia went bankrupt at the beginning of 2002, along with several other similar funds - such as AGW Slovakia - who promised a 30 to 40 percent return on investment deposits.

In the course of the investigation, the police found out that before the offices of Horizont Slovakia and BMG Invest were closed on February 3, all client deposits, totalling Sk50 million (€1.3 million) had been collected at the Horizont Slovakia headquarters in Košice. From this sum, about Sk41 million (€1 million) was fraudulently transferred from the cash desk of the company on the basis of fictitious sales contracts with the assistance of a representative of a so-called American investor, who allegedly was to have taken over the companies.

Majský was arrested on October 24, 2002 and released in June 2003 due to health problems. However, the circumstances for his release were unclear and one week later special police commandos arrested him at one of his residences.

Majský's lawyer, Peter Filip, said that his client is in poor health and that he does not plan to escape.

Additional suspects, David Brtva and Patrik Pachinger, are also in pre-trial custody in association with the "fraud of the decade" as it is often referred to in the media.

Trnka said that their release was out of the question. Pachinger will soon be extradited from the Czech Republic to Slovakia.

According to the prosecutor general, all the companies that Majský had ties with are undergoing bankruptcy proceedings so that it would not be possible for him to continue criminal activities.

Many victims blame former and current cabinets for enabling these firms to operate for years without proper state supervision, and some of the creditors have called for compensation to be granted from the state budget.

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