The government announced this week that it has come up with a new approach to dealing with the drawn out lawsuit concerning national lottery company Tipos.
It would not reveal any details of the latest plan, but it hopes to be able to avoid a massive payout to Cypriot company Lemikon Limited, which assumed the claim against Tipos from Czechoslovak lottery company Sportka in 2008.
Tipos looks set to appeal to the Constitutional Court over protection of its constitutional rights as the company does not feel that the ruling of the Supreme Court was duly substantiated.
At the end of November 2010 the Supreme Court ruled that Tipos had illegally used the know-how and trademarks of former the company Sportka, meaning Tipos would have to cough up at least EUR 14 million as part of the settlement with Lemikon Limited.
Lemikon originally demanded EUR 66.5 million from Tipos and could still get it, because the Supreme Court passed the overturned parts of the claim back to the court of first instance for re-examination, meaning Lemikon can still try to get its hands on the remaining EUR 52 million from Tipos.
Lemikon’s claim was acknowledged by former finance minister Jan Pociatek (Smer-SD), but there were speculations about ties between Lemikon and Pociatek, also because Lemikon 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).
In an earlier out-of-court settlement, Tipos actually paid EUR 16 million to Lemikon, and so even if it loses the case it expects the difference to be paid back, as the Supreme Court award was almost EUR 2 million less (EUR 14.122 million).
Tipos recently tried to dodge the court case ruling by filing for restructuring, but its first request was rejected and so it lodged another one. If granted, the restructuring would protect the company from creditors, meaning protection also from the company Lemikon.
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.
There were also allegations that renowned lawyer Ernest Valko was murdered last year because of his involvement in the case. No matter what the outcome, it looks pretty certain that the case involves some dirty dealings and that the poor taxpayers will once again be the losers in the case.