Futej behind reconstruction of Bratislava clinic

Panama Papers suggest the profit from Dôvera health insurer ended up in influential businessman's real estate ventures

Former policlinic at Bezrucova street in central Bratislava. Former policlinic at Bezrucova street in central Bratislava. (Source: Sme - Gabriel Kuchta)

Old x-rays scattered around the floor, rusty handrails, broken windows and tiles, shabby inscriptions suggest this used to be a policlinic in the past. The building is close to the Blue Church, a target of many tourists in Bratislava, and used to house one of Slovakia’s major birth wards. Thousands of Bratislavans were born here.

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But it has been going to ruins for more than 10 years now, even though it is officially a monument. In the meantime there have been many plans for who and how the building would be reconstructed. The work haven’t started yet, however, and it remains a place where homeless find a shelter for the night.

Only the correspondence and documents from Panama Papers uncover the fact that Bratislava-based lawyer Daniel Futej is behind the current developer of the new Bezručova building and he might have invested dividends from the Dôvera health insurer into the project.

Futej owned 50 percent of its shares until October 2015 and the planned reconstruction is set to be financed by the J&T Finance Group.

The Sme daily analysed the documents that leaked from Mossack Fonseca in cooperation with the Czech Centre for Investigative Journalism.

They couldn’t build flats

The decision to close the policlinic at Bezručova was made in 1997, but a few private medical offices  were still housed there even after that as the building was put up for sale.

In 2006, under Rudolf Zajac as health minister, the architectonic office ReSpect showed interest in buying the building. At that time they were leading the project at the nearby Pribinova zone, which included the Eurovea shopping mall, for the Irish investor Ballymore Properties.

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The architects from ReSpect wanted to turn the former policlinic into flats and offices, but they changed their mind in the last moment in May 2006 and withdrew from the purchase.

Back then, the municipal authorities were already talking about the new masterplan for the city, which counted with Bezručova to house medical doctors. Architects from ReSpect were not interested in running a hospital.

In 2007, the Bratislava-based Trajekt company won the new tender with the offer of 320 million Slovak crowns (€10.63 million) for the buildings and the land.

Read also: Money from health insurer could be in Bahamas Read more 

Did they play vabank?

Though the company did not publish its plans with the building at Bezručova, the masterplan did not count on flats and offices being built there. This changed in 2010, when the Old Town borough of Bratislava agreed to change the masterplan, allowing the construction of apartments, offices, and underground garage at the lucrative site. Following a petition of the locals, the masterplan also included the condition that at least one fifth of the site’s area should be devoted to medical offices. 

The reconstruction however did not proceed. In 2012, Trajekt sold the building to the Bezručova Invest company. The two companies were linked through their ownership structure at that time. Bezručova Invest borrowed €8.5 million from the Poštová Banka bank for the purchase.

In April 2013, the new owner published the plan to rebuild the building into a luxury hotel, flats, and medical offices. The reconstruction was to start in March 2014 and end this year. It however hasn’t started yet, and the construction permit was only issued in the summer of 2015. There will be no hotel in the building in the end, but the flats are already for sale. Their prices range between €85,000 for a one-room flat of 25 square metres, to €400,000 for a three-room flat with 110 square metres.

Futej owns the developer

Bezručova Invest is the developer of the project, but the relations behind the project have changed significantly in October 2013, as both the real estate and the developer changed owners.

As of October 24, 2013, Bezručova Invest is owned by the Belize-based shell company Berison Limited. The documents and correspondence from Mossack Fonseca show that Futej is the actual owner of this shell company. An e-mail from the summer 2012 from Mossack Fonseca suggests that Futej allegedly transferred his dividends from Dôvera to Berison Limited.

“Daniel Futej decided to send money as dividends to his company Berison Ltd. From Belize, of which he is the actual owner,” Futej wrote in the document for the RBC Royal Bank in the Bahamas, where one of his companies wanted to open an account. The Panama Papers do not show whether these transactions really took place as planned.

Prvá Penzijná Správcovská Spoločnosť of Poštová Banka, which belongs to J&T Finance Group, was involved in financing the Bezručova building.

In October 2013, the building became part of the investment fund Náš Prvý Realitný, which falls under the admin company of Poštová Banka, which is part of the J&T Finance Group’s portfolio.

The preemption right however remained registered with the developer, Futej’s company Bezručova Invest. This means that Náš Prvý Realitný participates in the financing.

Poštová Banka did not answer Sme’s question about the property and business agreements between the companies behind the project at Bezručova.

Read also: Pirates of the Caribbean Read more 

The businessman in the background

The original private owners of Bezručova, the businessmen behind the Trajekt company, also used the services of Mossack Fonseca through a mediator.

At the time when the building was purchased, one of the shareholders of Trajekt was the Cyprus-based shell company Dreamcatcher Investments Ltd. In 2012 the Trend weekly linked this company with businessman Stefan Czucz, former director of the state-owned oil transport company Transpetrol.

The board and the supervisory council of Trajekt at that time included people who were running business with Czucz since 1990s.

Cyprus-based company Dreamcatcher, linked to Czucz, owned Bezručova exactly at the time when the local authorities were drafting the change of the Old Town’s masterplan that unlocked the reconstruction of the building into lucrative apartments and offices.

Trend reports that Czucz has  “a strong influence in the nomination of people for posts that are filled by Most-Híd party”. The findings of the Slovak Information Service (SIS) also suggest that Czucz belonged to the businessmen with strong influence on Hungarian politicians in Slovakia.

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