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IPB Bank Files Lawsuit Against Czech Republic

Minority owners of failed Czech IPB bank said they filed a lawsuit against the Czech Republic with the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg on Thursday.

An association of shareholders is complaining about steps taken by Czech officials in the investigation of charges filed by small shareholders against IPB's current owner CSOB, the association's chairman Jaroslav Safarik said. Another issue is the Czech finance ministry's stance on the takeover of IPB by CSOB.

When investigating the charges, the police violated the shareholders' right to a just process, Safarik said and added: "As IPB shareholders, we cannot feel satisfied with the course of the police investigations." The association demands compensation and if the court decides the complaint is justified, it may also get "just satisfaction", Safarik said without disclosing the value of the compensation. IPB was put under forced administration after a run on deposits and then sold to CSOB under state guarantees in June 2000.

The case has not been closed yet owing to dozens of court disputes, including several arbitration processes, that are still under way. Japanese investment bank Nomura, IPB's former owner, is asking 40 billion crowns in an arbitration dispute for the Czech Republic's failure to protect its investment.

The Czech Republic sues Nomura over 263 billion crowns and Nomura and CSOB are also embroiled in legal disputes. At present, the Czech government and Nomura are trying to agree on an out-of-court settlement.

(NewsBase 22.ix.03)

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