News round-up

14 - 21 April 1997

Czech Republic's Deputy Finance Minister resigns under criticism

Czech Deputy Finance Minister Vladimir Rudlovcak has resigned under heavy criticism of his management of capital markets. Mr Rudlovcak has been in the spotlight for some time, with the sharpest criticism centred on a transfer of nearly US$50 million from the firm C.S.Fondy abroad. One billion crowns disappeared from the company at the beginning of March. The Ministry put the investment fund under forced administration on March 21 and submitted three criminal charges against C.S.Fondy's depository Plzenska bank. People who entrusted their money to C.S.Fondy filed a lawsuit against Mr Rudlovcak, whose subordinates allowed the transaction despite being notified of the suspicious transaction by the Girocredit Bank.

Finance Minister Ivan Kocarnik accepted Mr Rudlovcak's resignation. Jiri Spicka, Director of the Ministry's section on finance and banking, will be his replacement.

Italian troops land in Albania

An advance party of Italian troops arrived in Albania in preparation for a 6,000 strong multinational force due to arrive this week. The Italian troops aim to secure strategic harbours and the main airport in Albania, which is still in the throws of violent anarchy. In addition to the Italians, soldiers from France, Spain, Romania, Turkey and Greece are coming to the country to help safeguard deliveries of emergency food and medical supplies.

Czech registry records US$32 million in stock transfers

The Czech Central Securities Registry recorded US$32 million worth of over-the-counter transfers on April 9, for 725,000 publicly traded securities of 648 issues. However, the Czech capital market is infamous for its lack of transparency. Experts remain sceptical over the accuracy and reliability of daily reporting because transactions are not properly monitored. Traders are technically obliged to report their transactions on a daily basis, but there is no way of enforcing this regulation.

Meciar demands apology and gold from Havel

Slovak Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar has demanded an apology from Czech President Vaclav Havel, and asked him to hand-over gold he says belongs to Slovakia. Only if Mr Havel fulfills these demands will Mr Meciar officially visit the Czech Republic. The row is the latest blow to damaged relations between the two countries arising from disagreements over the division of the former Czechoslovakian assets.

Zimbabwe-Slovakia arms deals possible

Zimbabwe's Defence Minister has discussed possible arms deals with the General Director of Slovakia's state-owned Armex company. The African country is seen as a valuable trading partner because it could help revitalise the arms production industry which was run down by former Czechoslovakian President, Vaclav Havel.

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