Big fish in Joburg east is ‘no hood’

2010-09-05 11:47

Fugitive Czech billionaire ­Radovan Krejcir scoffs at ­suggestions that he is “some big mafia boss from the Eastern bloc” and says he has “nothing to hide”.

Krejcir said he was the victim of a “dirty plan” to “get me ­deported from this country”.

He now faces a new extradition battle following a successful high court application by the ­National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) on Wednesday.

But Krejcir is unfazed an says the court’s ruling simply “gives me more time”.

He says: “If they start it again, it will take another four years. Even if they decide to extradite me, they cannot do so until the political asylum case is over.”

Krejcir has accused ­“elements” in the NPA and ­police, Czech intelligence operatives and prominent private ­investigator Paul O’Sullivan – who ­describes Krejcir as the head of an “evil transnational crime syndicate” that “wants to control the underworld in South ­Africa” – of conspiring against him.

He claims O’Sullivan is in the pay of the Czech intelligence services and “stands to benefit by $500?000” if he is successfully extradited. O’Sullivan laughed off the claim.

Krejcir – who was sentenced in absentia in the Czech Republic to six-and-a-half years’ imprisonment and reportedly investigated on charges of conspiracy to murder, counterfeiting, extortion and abduction – is a flamboyant man, given to ostentatious displays of wealth and power.

In recent weeks, his links to a coterie of controversial South African businessmen and ­underworld figures has been in the spotlight.

He arrived in South Africa in 2007 and was arrested on an ­Interpol “red notice” while ­travelling on a Seychelles passport issued in the name of Egbert Jules Savy. An application for his extradition was unsuccessful.

Krejcir, who has applied for political asylum, has since ­ensconced himself in South ­Africa. He holds court at the Harbour Fish Market restaurant in the Bedford Centre, usually with ­either a Porsche, Lamborghini, Ferrari or Mercedes parked in a private, roped-off bay near the front door. He has free rein of the restaurant.

One corner of the outside ­patio is shielded with bulletproof glass, installed at Krejcir’s expense after he claimed to have discovered that a “Russian hit team” had been sent to South ­Africa by the Czech government to snatch or kill him.

Until his murder in May this year, Teazers strip club boss Lolly Jackson – along with George Smith, the man who would be ­accused of his murder – were
Krejcir’s frequent companions at the restaurant. Krejcir’s R20?million ­Bedfordview (east of Joburg) home, which he shares with his wife Katerina Krejcirova, a teenage son and a nine-month-old baby boy, is a high-security four-storey mansion ­replete with a steel and glass lift, aquarium and an infinity pool looking out over the Joburg skyline. They also own a holiday home on the Vaal Dam.

Krejcir says he has no desire to return to the Czech Republic. There, on the outskirts of Prague, Krejcir reportedly once lived on a 2?000 square-metre ­estate in a villa estimated to have cost R151?million.

It boasted squash and basketball courts, swimming pools and a giant aquarium containing reef sharks, a 1.7m moray eel and “other dangerous fishes”.

An ­enclosure was also constructed on the property for his pet tiger.

Czech police say the house ­also contained a secret strongroom packed with weapons, jewellery, share certificates and classified police documents.

Krejcir had amassed a fortune by the time he was 30, making most of it during the wave of state industry privatisation that followed the Velvet Revolution in 1989, which saw the downfall of the communist ­government.

In June 2005, balaclava-clad security police and state prosecutors swooped on Krejcir’s home. He is said to have ­escaped through a bathroom window, ­although he claims he was allowed to leave by a prosecutor.

Krejcir next turned up in the Seychelles where he ingratiated himself with the ruling elite and gave them his financial support.

As a result, he says: “They ­offered me and my family a new identity.” Seychelles ­authorities later claimed that the passport he used was fake.

But Krejcir says: “It is not ­important if the passport is false or not because if you are successful in getting political ­asylum, it doesn’t matter how you ended up in the country while trying to save your life.”

In the Seychelles he wrote an autobiography revealing he had advanced about R20?million for the 2002 election campaign of the Czech Social Democratic candidate for prime minister, Stanislav Gross. In exchange, he claimed to have received a promissory note which stipulated that if the election bid was successful, he would be given control of state oil company Cepro.

Gross later did an about-turn and Krejcir was arrested on a “trumped-up charge of fraud”.

At about the same time, his ­father was kidnapped, never to be seen again. Krejcir alleges that Czech state agents killed him because they believed he had the promissory note.

In early 2006, while Krejcir sunned himself on the Seychelles’ beaches, Czech newspapers linked him to the assassination of Frantisek Mrazek, the ­so-called godfather of organised crime in the country.

Krejcir says he barely knew Mrazek and laughs when asked if he had anything to do with the killing. “Yes, I shot one bullet from the Seychelles and the ­bullet travelled all the way direct to his heart. I’m very good.”

Krejcir readily admits he ­befriended or became acquainted with several of South Africa’s most controversial businessmen, notorious underworld ­figures and top-ranking police.

Among them are Jackson, Smith, security company kingpin Cyril Beeka, convicted ­druglord Glen Agliotti, self-confessed money launderer Alekos Panayi and ­Gauteng police crime intelligence head Major-General ­Joey ­Mabasa.

Following a City Press report which quoted Krejcir describing Mabasa as a man he could turn to “for help in a difficult situation”, it emerged that Mabasa had been quietly transferred to Pretoria. A police spokesperson ­refused to discuss the reasons for his transfer, saying it was an “internal matter”.

To this, Krejcir says: “So what? People find me because they believe I’ve got money. So they come like a bee on honey.”

“I’m spending money which I brought in officially through the reserve banks of the Czech ­Republic and South Africa.”

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