PRAGUE — Nova TV topper Vladimir Zelezny spent Monday in police custody, being questioned about the alleged illegal transfer of art worth $2 million.
A court order forbids Zelezny from moving assets, which may be seized by former partner Ronald Lauder’s Central European Media Enterprises in settlement for losses incurred after Zelezny ousted the U.S. firm from Nova in 1999.
It was unclear late Monday if Zelezny would be detained overnight. The offence carries a prison sentence of up to eight years.
Zelezny has allegedly transferred his art collection to Anser Aureus, a company reportedly established one month after he relaunched Nova TV following the power struggle with CME.
In other recent developments, police investigators announced that Zelezny and collaborators forged documents used to break an exclusivity agreement with CME.
CME boss Ronald Lauder filed several lawsuits against Zelezny and the Czech Republic for alleged breach of an investment protection treaty. Last year, an international tribunal ordered Zelezny to repay CME $23 million, plus $4 million interest, which he still hasn’t done.
In September CME notched up a surprise win in a Stockholm arbitration court, which freed it to seek $500 million damages from the Czech Republic for failing to protect its investment in Nova.
With the legal cases against him mounting, insiders fear Zelezny may flee to Slovakia, where his new TV station Joy is due to launch in March.
Legal residency, the first step toward obtaining a Slovak passport, could put Zelezny beyond the reach of the Czech legal system.