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Tax dollars for the billionaire

The mountain Railways in Crans-Montana are at a standstill. Again. Bad memories come back at Easter, 2018, as a billionaire Radovan Vitek pulled the plug. The owners of the cars wanted to make pressure on the municipality. He wanted money. His decision, made in Switzerland for outrage. Vitek had to explain to a town meeting and apologize.

Today, the standstill of the webs has a natural reason: The winter season is coming to an end. The dispute remained. Municipality of President Nicolas Féraud stands in front of the parked gondolas, and the effect is sobering. The relationship between the Vitek and the community remain broken, he says. Crans-Montana has lost any influence on the infrastructure, on the in the Mountain tourist destination depends on everything.

The sacking came in 2016, and is documented in various legal opinions. The local mountain Railways, the "Remontées Mécaniques Crans Montana Aminona" (CMA) needed at the time, fresh capital. The authorities of the municipalities of Crans-Montana Icogne and Lens, which owned all of the shares of the CMA, wanted to eat, no new money is pushed. "We would have had to apply for the purchase of shares to the municipal Assembly. Up to the meeting, much time would have elapsed, and the approval was not guaranteed," says Nicolas Féraud.

Vitek shows Power and chagrin

a shot in Crans-Montana resident, taxed at a flat rate Czech Investor Radovan Vitek 50 million Swiss francs. The real estate Mogul with an investment company in Luxembourg had already been bought in 2014, a larger share of the CMA shares. With the capital increase, he received a majority. The share of municipalities decreased from 23 to 11 percent.

Want to invest the Crans-Montana in its mount paths: billionaire Radovan Vitek. Photo: Bloomberg ()

owned real estate company, CMAI, the mountain restaurants and Park homes, had Vitek purchased earlier. Now Vitek brought together the CMA with the real estate company: today's Alpine resort. The investment does not pay off. The Resort made in the last years of operating losses. Million were required to renew tracks and real estate .

His Power and his displeasure is Vitek Crans-Montana feel. Repeatedly, he asked the municipality to invest in its tracks. He repeats, threatening otherwise to terminate the operation. The "view" referred to him as a "bully billionaire". Vitek benefited from dissensions between the CVP and the FDP, as well as tensions between the neighboring communities. The FDP has to Say in Crans-Montana, the CVP controlled Icogne and Lens. The CVP tends to cooperate with Vitek, the FDP, neither by threats intimidate, nor do they shy away from conflicts with him.

Crans-Montana on guarantees credit

Vitek, however, occurs very rarely in person in Crans-Montana. Be Governor, Philippe Magistretti, in Crans grew up, former wall street Banker and CMA managing Director and Chairman of the Board in a personal Union. The parish President says, Magistretti have threatened him once, to close the Station for a whole year, in this period of time abroad, a business plan. A horror scenario for the municipality, the not-to-be arrived. Different Easter 2018, as Vitek had to wait for the tracks to Crans-Montana to collect an alleged outstanding bill of 800'000 Swiss francs – a subsidy to the railway operation. Féraud, asserts: "I have never committed to this payment." The municipality paid anyway.

Feraud, looks out on the gondolas of the 2016 renewed "Ligne du Signal". "The problem with Vitek started with this Renovation," he recalls. 25 million Swiss francs cost. Parallel to the purchase of larger nacelles, the capacity of the chair lift was increased further above. Vitek wanted Crans-Montana is 25 million as a loan. However, the municipality did not want to be Viteks creditors. At the end of Vitek obtained the money in a Bank. Crans-Montana, took over the guarantee for the loan. No longer, pays Vitek needs to step in, the community.

What don't know Féraud, but research shows: For the Renovation of the "Ligne du Signal" received Vitek from the Federal government a loan of two million francs from the funds of the new regional policy (NRP). A further two million Swiss francs for the Canton of Valais paid. Because the rule is in the case of the NRP: Only if the Canton approves the money, pays the Federal government. And the same sum. Previously the Federal government and the Canton of loans for the ski slopes of Crans-Montana had spoken. Since December 2009, over ten million Swiss francs fins overall in the CMA. This is the Department of economic Affairs of the Canton of Valais shall communicate on request. As Vitek took over the company, has become the Confederation, overnight, a major creditor of the impulsive Czechs.

The case is an example of a relatively new Problem in the tourism policy of the Federal government: publicly-funded infrastructures are increasingly at the mercy of private investors. This also increases the risk for the taxpayer losses are incurred. In Crans-Montana Vitek has made new demands. It goes to the Parking garage to the lift station, which needs to be renovated for around 10 million Swiss francs. Vitek is the owner shall pay the municipality. Féraud is dismissive. He says the municipal Council conditions. What, exactly, he does not want to reveal. A new feud is on the horizon.

The Wind turns against Vitek

The Wind appears in the Canton of Valais to turn but now. Against Vitek. At least a little. Crans-Montana Icogne and Lens agreed, in the matter of Vitek, the Valais Prosecutor's office to turn it on. The allegation: Shortly after he gained control of the mountain railway company, CMA, to Vitek emptied the cash register and the other shareholders have been damaged. Specifically: Viteks CMA bought 2016 for 35 million Swiss francs, real estate company, CMAI, which belonged to Vitek. A large part of the CMA invested capital therefore flowed directly back into his wallet.

Crans-Montana Icogne and Lens lawyers and Trustee to investigate the circumstances. Five reports are available. The conclusion: The purchase price was outrageous. The real estate company is just supposed to be 5 million Swiss francs in value. In order for the municipalities, as shareholders, would have lost 2.6 million Swiss francs. The allegedly fictitious prices noticed, apparently, also the auditors, which examined the CMA-accounting. They had refused, the report of the auditors to sign, it is called in the expertise.

"the most Beautiful ski resort in the Alps"

Vitek has responded, and the real estate company CMAI back from the CMA out bought for 35 million. A financial damage would be fixed, any criminal Offence but not eliminated. The Valais Prosecutor's office has opened in the autumn of a procedure is currently pending.

Viteks Deputy Magistretti told the radio station, RTS, the expert reports from Geneva were of "poor quality" and contained "enormous shortcomings". He denies that the municipalities would have lost money. His boss dreams meanwhile, continue to transform Crans-Montana luxury ski resort, à la St. Moritz. You'll make Crans-Montana for the "most beautiful ski resort in the Alps," says Magistretti.

The question that plagues more and more of the Valais, is: Who will pay for it?

(editing Tamedia)

Created: 14.05.2019, 19:44 PM

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