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December 7, 2017 4:43 pm | FILED UNDER: business

Fake Lithium Scandal Linked Back to Zeman Associate

By Matt Atlas
In the run up to the most recent parliamentary elections, one of the key battleground subjects among candidates included a deal signed with an Australian mining firm to mine lithium. But now it appears that the basis of this scandal may have been false, and planted by a businessman close to President Milos Zeman, according to a report by Jiří Pšenička in Aktualne.cz.

According to the report, experts say that the pre-election lithium case, which alleged that the CSSD government had improperly ceded mining rights (an implied “mega fraud”), was based on unsubstantiated speculations with the characteristics of a well-executed disinformation campaign. The original source of these rumors lead back to a close friend of Czech President Miloš Zeman, a businessman named Zdeněk Zbytek. Zbytek admits that he provided certain speculative information to some of the Czech politicians before the elections – which eventually led to a stormy nine-hour debate in the Lower House on the future of lithium mining in the country.

 

The question remains what information Zbytek has provided to the politicians. He himself suggested two subject lines. The first is related to the alleged ownership structure of the Australian mining company European Metals Holdings, with which the Minister of Industry Jiří Havlíček (Soc. Dem.) signed a controversial Memorandum of Cooperation at the beginning of October. There is a supposed connection between this company and Zdeněk Bakala.

 

“There are the same companies to which Mr. Bakala allegedly handed over OKD, after he backed off from there. Therefore, it is believed that this is not a known Australian mining company, but again only an artificially created company managed by the Czech and foreign speculators,” says Zbytek and he repeats that he did not have the possibility to verify the information. According to him, it should be done the Czech journalists now.

 

Mentioned ownership structure was rejected by representatives of the miners. Also, any participation in the extraction of Czech lithium was categorically rejected by Mr. Bakala himself through his media representative Vladimir Bystrov.

 

The fact that the above-mentioned speculations of Mr. Zbytek could also have reached Andrei Babiš, indicates his tweet from November 15th. Babiš wrote that “the group around Roman and Bakala wants to get the lithium”.

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