PRAGUE — Czech politicos stripped Nova TV topper Vladimir Zelezny of his senatorial immunity from prosecution Thursday, freeing police to prosecute him for tax evasion and harming a creditor, Ronald Lauder’s TV group Central European Media Enterprises (CME).
Zelezny is charged with transferring millions of dollars to a Liechtenstein corporation and illegally transferring personal property to avoid paying monies to CME ordered by an international court. Zelezny has also been under investigation for smuggling works of art into the country.
CME was the financial backer and service provider for successful Czech commercial station Nova TV until Zelezny ousted the company.
Czech police have been investigating Zelezny for two years, and it was widely reported that Zelezny ran for Senate to evade prosecution.
Nova TV was sold last year to Czech investment group PPF, which paid damages owed to CME by Zelezny after an international arbitration case.
CME also won a second arbitration based on the Czech Republic’s failure to honor a Bilateral Investment Treaty; it is awaiting a verdict on the size of its damages. CME is asking for $526.9 million, the value of Nova TV at the time of its loss, plus interest.