This is only a "partially true" story, as told by Jana Outratová and recorded by Mr Reed*), shortly after she lost to her (former) buddies Jan Soukup and Jan Suk (StB: "Roztoky"). Buddies in a scheme to "rob as rob can" in the "Wild East".
The privatisation of Železářství V.J. Rott (V.J. Rott Ironmonger). 153
Železářství V.J. Rott was Prague's most famous department store, selling hardware goods and occupying prime real estate near the Old Town Square.[a] an important part of my grandfather's business have been partnerships with Czechoslovak and European industries] The store was established in 1840 by the Rott family, which remained its sole owner [b] my grandfather, Vladimír Jiří, has had a majority, his nephew Ladislav Veselý, Outratová's father, a (small) minority] until the Communists nationalised it. After the 1989 revolution two of the surviving members of the family, Jana Outratová and Vladimír Rott, had a clear interest in the restitution of the business and unusually good qualifications (for example, Outratová worked for the Canadian Government for many years as a management specialist). [c.1] the interests could not be more diverse - while I have pursued the renewal of the once prospering company, Outratová - who later on, along with others from the family, all invited by me to participate, joined in the family settlement negotiations on eventual claims - from the very beginning declared to be interested in selling "her" share, later pursued various schemes how to get herself into a position to sell the whole property, with the help of her husband, Edvard Outrata (StB: "Elliott") and his friend, Radim Kopecký, a known StB cadre ("Karel", "Kopec", "Matěj", "Spojka") – [c.2] ("management specialist") Jana Outratová presented a number of CV's, as many as "audiencies", from fairy-tales to more sober, even if less spectacular, ones...] However, because the family converted the business to a joint-stock company in 1934, it did not fall within the scope of the restitution law. Therefore they pursued their claim through the privatisation process, submitting a project in October 1991 for the business [d] No, Outratová did not, she joined in later - see also previous and following remarks] The Czech Government, Ministry of Trade and Tourism (MTT - the enterprise's founding ministry) and MP all publicly recognised the Rotts' right to the family firm. The privatisation committee of the MTT informed Vladimír Rott that it was recommending to the MP the family project, which proposed to transfer half [e.1] i.e. 51%] the company to the family and half [e.2] i.e. 49%] to its employees. [e.3] that is my project, which clearly stated all six living relatives to the latest two owners, further proposed the 51/49 share split in the ownership of the company's remnants with employees of the state company – and, before all, I have clearly declared – as the aim and core of my project – the renewal of the company, along with needed investment, which most relatives of mine supported, yet Outratová definitely did not - see also previous remarks]
However, a struggle for V.J. Rott developed between the Rott family and elements of the former communist management. Immediately after the submission of the family project, Manager of the Tools Department Jan Soukup submitted as the basic project of the state enterprise a project which was almost identical to the family one (down to the details of the business plan) [f] no, this "project" has been "elaborated" later jointly by Outratová & Soukup, well after all deadlines passed definitely, and illegally "exchanged" for the originally submitted Soukup's "project" right before my project went to the Government's approval; later on I have encountered amazing traces of Outratová's and Soukup's "works" at the Ministry archives, hasty xerox copies of my project, with flimsy tipp-ex traces, jointly signed by Outratová & Soukup; Outratová, a bit later on, after loosing to her buddy Soukup and his buddy Suk, even admitted this scheme of deception in amazing details] Soukup had an ally in the form of Vlasta Štěpová, Minister of Trade and Tourism, who previously worked with Soukup's mother in a different ministry. She repeatedly intervened on behalf of Soukup. For example, at an MTT press conference on 2/4/92, Minister of Privatisation Tomáš Ježek clearly supported the family's right to the firm; however, immediately after his departure, Štěpová returned to the same question, changed her tone, and expressed her support for Soukup. Officials from her ministry later admitted negotiating the privatisation under severe pressure from her. [g] this has been a "public secret" from the very beginning on, only Outratová learned this a bit later, as she joined in later, after she and her husband came back from Canada]
Despite this, the MTT recommended the family project. [h] not "despite" - my project and numerous presentations how to renew and develop the company in all necessary details persuaded the responsibles, that is those among them understanding the matter and wishing to introduce real entrepreneurship in Czechoslovakia (divided a bit later on into Czechia and Slovakia); while Soukup's project was "empty", barely stating that he, comrade director, wants this chunk of the socialist economy; Outratová freely chose him as her buddy, on advice from her and her husband Edvard's StB connections - see also remark/s above] However, when the privatisation reached the MP, the two officials responsible there for the Rott privatisation soon began to insist that the Rotts merge their project with Soukup's into a common project. [i.1] those two were externs, in minor positions, shortly after this my encounter with them - in which I refused to bribe them, and/or to let comrade director participate, as they demanded, or, more precisely, passed this demand on from those behind them - they left their temporary jobs with the ministry – [i.2] Outratová, i.e. Outratas, choosed on her/their own, behind my back, a bit later to participate in the scheme she mentions here] At a meeting on 27/3/92, one of them suggested that if somebody paid $20,000, the original project could be approved. Neither Outratová nor Vladimír Rott took the hint, and the latter refused to participate in any further negotiations.154 [j] no, Outratová well took all the hints, and so I refused to collaborate with her after having found out that she works closely together with Jan Soukup, which happened quite a bit later than Outratová indicates here, never giving up my project, as she also tries to pretend, see also preceeding remark] Outratová continued to participate in the prospective merger, thinking that it was the least bad course of action under the circumstances. [k] she did so freely and on her very own, her husband's and their StB friend's initiative, in spite of that she did not participate in my privatisation project, neither worked it out, nor submitted it, nor negotiated according to its declared goals]
Although the family was supported by Jaroslav Muroň, the deputy-Minister for Privatisation who was responsible for signing the MP's recommendation, in the end the basic project was approved. How is not exactly clear [l] on the very contrary, it's perfectly clear - see next remark], since Muroň's was the final signature. According to Outratová, it happened because one of the above-mentioned officials submitted the project to Muroň for signing, and he has very bad sight. After Soukup's project was approved [m] Outratová actively participated in exchanging the real for the fake, with her then close buddy Soukup, as she later admitted with amazing "openness", and so actively helped in the scheme], Muroň said that the decision should be annulled, but then became embroiled in the Jihočeské mlékárny privatisation scandal (see appendix to Chapter Four). The decision therefore stood and was approved by the Czech Government on 28/10/92. Mrs Sommerauová, the official at the MP who had to sign the final updated version of the project, did not want to because she suspected that basic changes had been made after the Government's approval of the project, but did so under pressure from Deputy Minister Michal Soukup. Meanwhile, the two officials responsible for the privatisation had left the MP, since they had been employed only as external officials; however, one of them agreed to continue working on the privatisation until it was completed.
As already mentioned, the basic project was similar to the family one: the family would still receive 50% of the shares - a controlling stake if the other 50% was split amongst the workers. In the case of an equal 50/50 split of shares between the opposing sides, the approved privatisation project implied that the firm would be ungovernable. Minister of Privatisation Jiří Skalický recommended that the family submit a new project proposing a 50/50 split between the family and voucher privatisation. Outratová and Rott did so [n1] no participation of mine in this another weird scheme, kept secret from me back then - Outratas, Outratová did so, again, on her, her husband's and their StB friend's own – [n2] this "basic project" being a fake, see remarks above], but the MP failed to process the project within the deadline for projects using the voucher method.
At this point Soukup secured two key changes in the project - after its approval by the MP. Firstly, on the basis of the fact that the employees can only own a maximum of 15% of a privatised company, the "employees" were replaced by an "employees limited company" - in which the only employees' names were his and one other manager. Two managers would thereby effectively control half of the shares. Secondly, Vladimír Rott's name was substituted with that of his ageing father Vladimír Jan Rott. [o] all this, again, either by Outratas, Outratová alone, and/or with her, their, active help and participation] This was possible simply because the original project specified the former's identity in a way which was indistinguishable from his father. [p] not so, in my project I have clearly stated who is who, only Outratová later falsified this, quite clumsily (again, xerox and handiwork on it, then xeroxed) to the wished "indistinguishability", as I have also found in the Ministry's archives] Rott senior, an old and sick man, was subsequently manipulated by [q] Outratová and/or, according to changing aliances, "circumstances" and "needs", her buddy's buddy, the widely known as infamous] Prague lawyer Jan Suk, who persuaded Rott to give him power-of attorney, giving him free rein to exercise Rott's property rights in the company.
In other words, the company was finally transferred into the control of two people whose names did not even appear in the project which was originally approved.
[r] with active help from Outratová, her husband and their StB pal - see also preceding remarks]
A series of events followed which ended in the bankruptcy of the company in February 1995 due to a loan negotiated fraudulently by Jan Soukup
[s] and due to Outratas' StB buddy, Radim Kopecký, loosing interest in Outratová's and her husband's schemes]
.. In sum, the case presents a picture of the inner workings of the MP and other ministries involved in the privatisation which constitutes strong evidence of pathologies
4 (unauthorised access to a privatisation project
[t] by Outratová, Soukup, Suk and their buddies]),
6 (unauthorised changes to a project
[u] by Outratová & Soukup]),
7 (use of public position for private gain
[v] by a.o. Outrata, misusing his position and connections as chair of the Czech Statistical Office]),
8 (personal patronage) and
10 (demanding a bribe). Moreover, again no arguments in terms of the priority of fast privatisation over legality can be used to justify the course of the privatisation.