PRAGUE, May 12 (Reuters) - Czech coal miner OKD’s insolvency administrator is seeking more than 12 billion crowns ($491 million) from the company’s former owners, including New World Resources and investor Zdenek Bakala, a lawsuit showed on Friday.
OKD fell into insolvency a year ago as falling coal prices pushed it into deep losses. It is now going through a reorganisation and the government has bid to buy OKD, which runs the country’s only hard coal mines and employs more than 10,000 in the industrial northeast.
OKD filed its own lawsuit in November last year against its sole shareholder NWR and NWR’s former co-owner Bakala to get back twice the amount that the administrator, Lee Louda, is seeking.
Louda is seeking the return of dividends paid from OKD to NWR for the financial years 2010 and 2011.
“The stated massive payouts of dividends irrespective of the real level of profit that (OKD) was able to generate in the given period was one of the main causes of the insolvency of (OKD),” the administrator said in the lawsuit filing.
Besides NWR and Bakala, Louda is also suing another former investor, Peter Kadas, along with BXR Group and CERCL Mining, companies affiliated with the former majority owners of NWR.
NWR shares stopped trading shortly after the insolvency of OKD, its main revenue provider, and shareholders voted last November to liquidate the company.
Louda’s office said he could not be immediately reached for a comment while a media representative for Bakala declined to comment.
A CERCL spokesman said the company was not aware of anyone receiving a suit yet. “However, CERCL is very confident that it will be shown to be completely without foundation,” the spokesman said.
Representatives for the other parties were not immediately available.
Bakala relinquished his co-ownership in NWR in February 2016, before OKD’s insolvency filing, by returning his shares for free.
$1 = 24.4360 Czech crowns Reporting by Jason Hovet and Petra Vodstrcilova; Editing by Elaine Hardcastle