WASHINGTON, May 26 /PRNewswire/ -- During a press conference at the National Press Club Wednesday Mr. Steve Richards, Managing Director of CAPPA Fund III, called for the Government of Slovakia to be transparent and observe the rule of law regarding pipeline operator Transpetrol. "We have a direct request: respect the rule of law and the legitimacy of the Slovak courts. Show the people of Slovakia the revenues, the expenses, what happened in secret shareholder meetings, and where the profits went."
Richards called the decade-long legal battle in the civil and criminal courts an attempt to divert attention from how the asset has been managed. "Transpetrol should have delivered great value to the people of Slovakia, but it has not. We believe it has been mismanaged."
Proper corporate governance, said Richards, could make Transpetrol a platform for future growth. "If the Government allows efficient management of this asset, it will usher in a more predictable business and investment environment, with increased transparency and integrity. This would bring more [foreign] investment, create new jobs, and increase the national wealth of Slovakia. These are things the private sector does well. The Government should not look at CAPPA as a threat, but as a partner that can help manage this asset for the greater benefit of all shareholders, which, by virtue of the 66% held by the government, include the citizens of Slovakia."
Richards defended his firm's legal claim to the disputed shares. "We are convinced by our due diligence that these 647 shares were sold in a clearly legal manner, in a proceeding that has been upheld by the judicial system of the Slovak Republic. There is an entire sequence of court decisions supporting our case, spanning 10 years."
Richards outlined the Supreme Court and Constitutional Court decisions upholding the legality of the original sale of the shares, and reaffirming the rights of the owners.
"We invite the Government to work with us to solve this issue, and explore how our partnership can increase prosperity for all Slovakians, not just the few that currently benefit from this asset. We are aware that the Government has accused several people of wrongdoing, and we believe it is an increasingly desperate attempt to divert attention from the legality of the sale, and the illegality of their maneuvering to keep control of Transpetrol."
"This is the people's asset – it should be run for the benefit of the people. We believe transparency and our management expertise will help the Government do that."
In answer to questions, Richards stated bluntly that "we have no connection to Russia, Russian investors, or any entity in the Russian oil and gas industry."
He confirmed that CAPPA has entered discussions with the Slovakian Government, but refused to disclose details. Asked about the upcoming elections, Richards said CAPPA will work with any democratically elected leader of the country.
CAPPA has no connection to Mr. Ilcisin, Richards stated. "We don't know him, and we have no opinion on his case; he is irrelevant to our purchase."
In closing, Richards asserted, "They have joined the EU [and] … are bound by international agreements to respect the rule of law and private property…. They cannot continue to ignore this. We will use all available options to secure our rights."
A transcript of the press conference is available at: www.cappa.us
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SOURCE CAPPA Fund III