TIPOS Saved By The Bell; For Now At Least
State-run lottery company Tipos has possibly slithered out of a hefty lawsuit that has been hanging over it as the District Court of Bratislava I has initiated restructuring proceedings, which will give it a certain level of protection against creditors.
The company tried to file for restructuring earlier, but its petition was rejected on procedural grounds. As of today, though, the company has preliminary protection until such times as the court issues a decision about the restructuring, which it has to issue within the next 30 days.
The main reason for applying for restructuring approval is the lawsuit with Cyprus-based company Lemikon Limited. The company was recently awarded damages from Tipos for it having used the know-how and trademarks of former Czechoslovak betting company Sportka, meaning Tipos would have to cough up at least EUR 14 million for Lemikon Limited, which took over the claim from Sportka in November 2008.
Before the June elections, Lemikon was claiming damages of around EUR 66.5 million, which finance minister at the time Jan Pociatek acknowledged and was willing to pay. Speculations about ties between Lemikon and Pociatek, among others, lie in the fact that the company has the same Cyprus address as finance group J&T, with which Pociatek has close ties, having been their guest on a luxury yacht right before the central parity exchange rate of the Slovak koruna was set to the euro (certain companies made a lot of money buying up koruna before the official rate was announced, and Pociatek had to withstand a no-confidence motion in parliament over the affair).
The future of Tipos still hangs in the balance, being dependent on whether restructuring is allowed or not and just how much changing of hands is going on in the background to this 10-year old dubious case, which may also have been the reason for the murder of renowned lawyer Ernest Valko, which is still unresolved.
Finance minister Ivan Miklos said the whole affair was aimed at extorting tens of millions of euro from Slovakia, and that his predecessor from Smer-SD Jan Pociatek had not acted in the public interest. Miklos says his ministry and the company would do everything in their power to prevent any payout to the company Lemikon.
Other articles concerning the Tipos Affair can be seen here