Czech trade minister refuses to say where his mother got Kč 16 mln for dodgy deal

Martin Kocourek reportedly advised his mother to invest with the dubious Czech brokerage Key Investments, now under investigation

István Léko 7.11.2011
Ministr průmyslu a obchodu Martin Kocourek má velký problém. | na serveru Lidovky.cz | aktuální zprávy Ministr průmyslu a obchodu Martin Kocourek má velký problém. | foto: © ČTK, ČESKÁ POZICEČeská pozice
Ministr průmyslu a obchodu Martin Kocourek má velký problém.

The Key Investments scandal in which, among others, the names of Czech presidential advisor Jiří Weigl and Environment Minister Tomáš Chalupa (Civic Democrats, ODS) appear has taken another twist and is likely to come to a head soon. Now the past has caught up with another Czech cabinet member – Minister of Industry and Trade Martin Kocourek (ODS) – whose mother invested over Kč 16 million with the dodgy brokerage, which is under investigation by central bank authorities.

This latest revelation is most likely a counterattack by Key Investments’ director and co-owner Daniel Brzkovský, who has unexpectedly spoken publically. The Key Investments scandal, which was a contender for the “Pigsty of the Year Award,” has been covered in detail by Czech Position since January this year.   

Minister’s money not involved ... apparently  

Kocourek has a serious problem on his hands. He is refusing to explain how his mother, Jindřiška Kocourková, came upon Kč 16.4 million sent to her account with Key Investments from the firm Eton Ventures, registered in the US state of New Mexico. Under unclear circumstances, in March 2008 she invested the money through the brokerage into the same stocks and bonds as the administrations of Prague, 6, 10, and 13, (all led by the ODS party) had in their portfolios managed by the same investment firm.

Kocourková, however, only held onto the non-tradable bonds issued by the companies E Side Property, Via Chem Group and Sincom, for three months. In June 2008 she received Kč 16.4 million for those bonds. The information about Kocourek’s mother’s multi-millions was first reported by the daily Mladá fronta Dnes (MfD), citing documents it has obtained.  

How Kocourková, now 63, came upon the money and invest it in those bonds via the Key Investments, has yet to be explained. Her son the minister reportedly recommended the brokerage to her, but Kocourek has refused to comment about the matter on the grounds that it was not his money.

Brzkovský is evidently under considerable pressure, and it’s possible that he’s not happy that he has been left to swallow a bitter pill prescribed by the firm’s previous boss, Vladimír Kroužecký“This is a targeted campaign and to me does not appear to be [based upon] reliable [information],” Kocourek told MfD, adding that he would not discuss private family matters.

Key Investments’ Daniel Brzkovský, also spoke to MfD about the latest revelations. “Considering the fact that thanks to certain people the list of Key Investments clients is now is quite commonly available, I cannot deny this information,” he said.

“As I have said before in relation to other circumstances, the persons who have until now been scandalized most by the media in connection with Key Investments are not the right ones to be held responsible,” Brzkovský added.

When asked, however, who are the “right” (and wrong) people, he said each person must interpret it for themselves. It’s a matter of speculation as to why Brzkovský who has remained silent for so many months has decided all of a sudden to speak so openly with the media. He has resolutely and consistently refused to answer any questions put to him by Czech Position.

It’s almost a year now since the police anti-corruption and financial crimes unit began investigating Key Investments. Brzkovský is evidently under considerable pressure, and it’s possible that he’s not happy that he has been left to swallow a bitter pill prescribed by the firm’s previous boss, Vladimír Kroužecký.

Kroužecký still controls a 20 percent stake in Eden Sport Investments Ltd. — the UK registered mother firm of E Side Property, which owns FC Slavia Prague’s stadium in Prague 10.

All previous articles on the Key Investments scandal are archived here