What connects billionaire Daniel Křetínský, Libor Sadílek – co-owner of Eltodo and former man of Motoinvest – and real estate tycoon Václav Skala? In the last few years, all three have bought villas in lucrative parts of Prague from the Diplomatic Service, a contributory organization of the Czech Foreign Ministry, writes Robert Břešťan on the Watchdog website.
The splendid seats of the former embassies at sought-after Prague addresses attract long-term movable buyers. A number of lucrative buildings remain in the Diplomatic Service portfolio. Those that they designate as redundant, for example, are unable to be rented for a long time (and no other state institution is interested in them) are gradually offered for sale.
This also happened in the case of a number of properties for which WatchPes.org requested documentation under Law 106 on Free Access to Information. It is united by the fact that she bought interesting names of domestic business from the state. Let's add that based on expert opinions and envelope method.
Villas that the state did not need
In March 2013, Eltodo's owner, investor and Motoinvest financier Libor Sadílek bought a house from the state in Prague's Hanspaulka, Nad Šárkou Street, in March 2013. Among its neighbors is the embassy of Libya.
The state acquired the villa of the First Republic in June 1986 from a private person with a plan to rent it for the needs of foreign embassies. “Unfortunately, no embassy showed interest in this building, which is why the individual flats were subsequently rented to Czechoslovak citizens,” explains the fate of the house built in 1928, explaining the report for sale, saying that “
Over the years, the state has repeatedly offered property for sale on the Diplomatic Service website and on the sReality real estate server. Finally, based on an expert report, it sold it for CZK 21.5 million in March 2013. The owner is still according to the Land Register Libor Sadílek.
Even real estate tycoon Vaclav Skala, among others owner of the Dancing House or Kotva department store, bought an interesting villa from the state (although Skala usually stays in Monaco). In this case, the house in Strength Street in Stresovice was owned by the Diplomatic Service only one quarter.
The state acquired its share as a so-called death – after the deceased without an heir, in February 2016 sold it to Skala for 7.75 million crowns.
“The transferred property was not offered to state organizational units and state organizations, as it is obvious that it cannot be used,” says the explanatory report on the sale of real estate in the popular embassy of Prague 6. The Swiss Embassy is just one house away.
The direct sale to Skala took place just before the amendment to the State Property Act, according to which from 1 March 2016 “state organizational units” are obliged to transfer unnecessary real estate to the Office of the Government Representation in Property Matters, which only manages them offer or sell.
Thus, for example, the ÚZSVM recently sold Functionalist villa by architect Max Urban, built by Milos Havel in Prague's Barrandov on Lumieru Street.
Purchase for your manager
Even billionaire and energy entrepreneur Daniel Křetínský managed to buy a villa in Střešovice directly from the Diplomatic Service just before the amendment to the State Property Act. In February 2016 he acquired a four-storey villa built in 1933, in Na Dračkách Street.
“The condition and equipment of the building corresponds to the fact that the building is (with the exception of the basement) unused, unoccupied.
The minimum selling price was determined by an expert estimate of 21.1 million crowns, sold by the envelope method. Křetínský offered the most: CZK 28,005,369. The second highest bid was overpaid by just CZK 5,369. The sale was contractually confirmed on February 8, 2016.
His purchase is interesting mainly because only three months later, May 2, 2016, Křetínský villa “sent” on.
He sold it to a close associate, manager of his EP Holding (and from October 2018 also to the director of football Sparta) František Čupra for the same amount: CZK 28,005,369.
“It was a public tender by the so-called envelope method, where the only criterion was the amount of the bid price. Anyone could apply. Daniel Křetínský never communicated with anyone about this matter from the Diplomatic Service or any other state office. It was a purchase based on an advertisement where the whole thing was organized by his assistant, “explains Křetínský spokesman Daniel Častvaj.
From the beginning, it was also an agreement between Daniel Křetínský and František Čupra. “Mr. Cupr did not have the purchase financing at the time of the contest, and he was also considering buying another property. The whole deal was that Daniel Křetínský was buying and František Čupr would either buy it from him or Daniel would keep the property as an investment.”
According to him, “with a little exaggeration” it can be said that this transaction was mainly made by the Financial Administration of the Czech Republic, which in this case collected twice the tax on the acquisition of real estate.
Křetínský, according to Forbes monthly, the fifth richest Czech, now near Sparta football stadium presents to his private residence the First Republic Kapsa Villa. Even in the past it belonged to the State or the Diplomatic Service, the embassy of Iran resided here.
Houses in the diplomatic service
The Diplomatic Service manages a number of lucrative properties in Prague, which it leases to commercial companies, foreign embassies and private individuals. Even among them there are or were interesting names.
For example, a house with a garden, a garage and a garden house in Prague 6 in Romaina Rollanda was rented by a Russian entrepreneur Roman Jakubovič Popov for a rent of CZK 3,194,000 a year ago. Man with links to Gazprom and owner of ERB Bank, which in the autumn of 2017 in the Czech Republic went bankrupt.
Now the villa is again in “diplomatic services”, is rented as the residence of the Ambassador of the Kingdom of Spain.
The properties that the Diplomatic Service marks unused and expendable can then be offered for sale. One of such villas could be the one on Siberian Square. As recently described GuardianPes.org, in the villa was rented for a long time by the family of Russian businessman Dimitri Romanenko, former Managing Director of Lukoil Aviation Czech, where he knows Martin Nejedly, advisor and close associate of President Zeman.
However, after the rental payment had not been received by the Diplomatic Service for several months last year, Romanenko was denounced on 29 February this year. Indications suggest that the house in the area of ”small Moscow” later offer the state as unused for sale.
By the way, it was Romanenko who bought another villa from the Diplomatic Service some 10 years ago in Bubeneč, Prague 6, Na Zátorce street. House without permission demolished and built a new residence in its place.
Robert Břešťan pro Institute of Independent Journalism