OT 296: Letter to the Clerk of the Committee from Mario Hoffmann
I am a Slovak entrepreneur and businessman and I am a majority owner of the Slovak financial group Istrokapital.
Recently I have decided to make a private investment in Salt Cay Island which is a part of the Turks and Caicos Islands, BWI which relates to the purpose of this letter.
I understand that a journalist, Mr. Charles Laurence, submitted a letter relating to my investment in Salt Cay Island to a Parliamentary Inquiry of the House of Commons Select Committee on Foreign Affairs in May of this year. A copy of the letter can be found at:
The letter is titled "THE TURKS AND CAICOS ISLANDS, BWI: DEVELOPMENT AND CORRUPTION ON SALT CAY" and as the title makes clear, it contains serious allegations of corruption and other criminal offences, some of which are directed at my person or at Istrokapital. For example. the letter says:
"The developers have acquired all the land they demanded through corrupt use of compulsory purchase of property and requisition orders for leased Crown Land, making substantial payments to PM Michael Misick and his ministers."
'Hoffman and his associates are "gangster capitals" from the era of privatization of the economies of the old Soviet bloc. Hoffman owns and operates a holding company/bank called Istrokapital, holding 95%."
"There is also suspicion that all three businesses (Istrokapital, J&T, Penta) are conduits for Russian money and used as fronts for money laundering."
I am very concerned about the information contained in Mr. Laurence's letter as the allegations contained therein are not true, and I strongly deny them. I consider these statements to be defamatory and obviously damaging to my and Istrokapital's reputation - a fact that I cannot ignore.
The allegations made by Mr. Laurence in his letter have had a substantial impact on me and my business dealings, and my reputation has been seriously threatened based on groundless claims and innuendo. I am a respected businessperson in the Slovak Republic and own a majority stake in one of the Slovak banks (Poštová banka, as.) and I am a member of its Supervisory Board. You can expect that my and Istrokapital's qualifications, reputation and standing in the business community were completely vetted by the Slovak National Bank as part of their supervisory authority over the Slovak banking sector. As you should be aware, prior to any acquisition of a European bank the new owner, its shareholders, and representatives must obtain an approval from the relevant regulatory authority, in this case she Slovak National Bank; the process of granting the approval for the acquisition of a bank is very complicated in the Slovak Republic and Slovak law forbids (in accordance with European regulations) a bank from being acquired by a person whose trustworthiness would threaten the banking business. If my reputation was as bad as Mr. Laurence tries to indicate in his letter, the Slovak National Bank would have never granted its approval of my acquisition of Poštová banka, a.s. or allowed me to be involved in a banking business which is one of the most regulated businesses in the European Union.
As far as our project at Salt Cay Island is concerned, it is designed as one of the most sustainable developments in Caribbean. It preserves unique values of the island, its history and nature, and prevents the island from insensitive extensive development that we can see on many other islands. It should also be noted that the project enjoys the strong support of a vast majority of inhabitants of the island.
I believe that visitors of your webpage and the public in general have a right to hear the other side of the story. Therefore kindly I ask you to publish this letter or allow me another form of response on your webpage to counter the letter sent by Mr. Laurence so that the public can have a more balanced view of this matter.