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IN SHORT

Investigation of fraud of the decade ends

AN INVESTIGATOR has proposed that three suspects associated with the collapse of unlicensed investment companies BMG Invest and Horizont Slovakia be charged, bringing to an end the investigation of what has been called Slovakia's fraud of the decade.

The investigator proposed charging the three suspects - Jozef Majský, David Brtva, and Patrik Pachinger - with the crimes of establishing and supporting a criminal gang and fraud, the news wire SITA reported.

The investigation took 22 months and the file contains 7,500 pages, Interior Minister Vladimír Palko said on August 23.

If convicted, the suspects may face up to 12 years in prison.

The unlicensed investment companies attracted clients by promising them unrealistically high gains from their investments.

Both companies, BMG Invest and Horizont Slovakia, had nearly 170,000 clients with whom the companies signed more than 240,000 contracts for loans or silent partnerships. Over five years, BMG Invest and Horizont Slovakia collected Sk16.8 billion (€419 million) from their clients.

The police have found that before Horizont Slovakia and BMG Invest were shut down in February 2002, all client investments, reaching a total of Sk50 million (€1.2 million), had been gathered at the Horizont Slovakia headquarters in Košice.

Of this sum, about Sk41 million (€1 million) was fraudulently transferred from the cash desk of the company via ficticious sales contracts with the assistance of a representative of "an American investor" who allegedly should have taken over the companies.

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