Prague, Jan 17 (CTK) – Czech Pirate MP Lukas Cernohorsky will head a lower house commission investigating the privatisation of the OKD coal mining firm, the MPs decided in a secret vote on Wednesday, election commission head Martin Kolovratnik (ANO) said.

Cernohorsky won 95 votes in the secret vote, his rival Pavla Golasowska (Christian Democrats, KDU-CSL) 49 votes. The commission can start operating now.

The other members of the commission are Dominik Feri (TOP 09), Leo Luzar (Communists, KSCM), Josef Hajek (ANO), Vaclav Klaus Jr (Civic Democrats, ODS), Petr Pavel (Mayors and Independents, STAN), Lubomir Volny (Freedom and Direct Democracy, SPD) and Lubomir Zaoralek (Social Democrats, CSSD).

The task of the commission would be to check the sale of the state shares, the circumstances under which the state lost its majority stake and the chance to have control over the firm, and the activities of state bodies and officials responsible for property transfers within the privatisation process.

The state lost its majority stake in OKD in 1996. In 2004, the sale of the minority stake was approved by the government of Stanislav Gross (Social Democrats, CSSD), in which former CSSD prime minister Bohuslav Sobotka (in office 2013-17) was finance minister. The Karbon Invest group, which already owned a part of the firm, bought the stake for 4.1 billion crowns.

The state attorney supervising the case says the sale caused high damage to the state because the price of the stake was at least 9.8 billion crowns then.

Two months after the privatisation, Karbon Invest of Viktor Kolacek and Petr Otava sold OKD to the RPG Industries of Zdenek Bakala. Various sources put the selling price of the firm at the time at 9-12 billion crowns.

OKD was declared insolvent in May 2017. Along with its suppliers, it employs about 11,000 people.

In the previous election period, the lower house of parliament rejected the proposal to set up a commission for the investigation of the controversial OKD privatisation but it declared last March that the privatisation was disadvantageous for the state both economically and socially. OKD ran into difficulties due to falling prices of coal and excessive debts. Creditors have permitted its reorganisation.

OKD and its suppliers employ less than 10,000 people at present. Their number is to continue falling gradually along with the phase-out of individual mines. The Darkov and Lazy mines are to be closed this year, the CSA mine in 2021 and the CSM mine in 2023.

The expert who assessed the OKD’s price for the government and two former officials of the National Property Fund (FNM) who dealt with the OKD privatisation, have been put on trial.