Government Removes Head of Lottery Company TIPOS

As the new Slovak government settles into its cosy parliamentary majority, the switch of control in various state-run institutions is well underway, with head of the controversial state lottery company TIPOS the latest to be dethroned.

Newly appointed finance minister Peter Kazimir took the decision today to end the term of office of TIPOS general director Milos Ronec with immediate effect as of today. Ronec has only been in the job for half a year, after taking over from Stanislav Ziacik in September 2011, after he was forced to resign over a tender won by an advertising agency he had links with in the past.

The lottery company is entangled in some interesting lawsuits, with some suspicious goings on, most notably surrounding the lawsuit held by the company Lemikon. The company was awarded damages from Tipos for it having used the know-how and trademarks of former Czechoslovak betting company Sportka, meaning Tipos would have to have coughed up at least EUR 14 million for Lemikon Limited, which took over the claim from Sportka in November 2008.

Before the June 2010 elections, Lemikon was claiming damages of around EUR 66.5 million, which Smer-SD 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 alleged 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).

In May last year Tipos slithered out of the hefty lawsuit after the District Court of Bratislava I initiated restructuring proceedings, giving it a certain level of protection against creditors, but the case is still pending.

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