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Fico’s business in Cuba: Financiers have earned and the state will be bothered with debts

During the autumn of this year, Cuba was to start repaying the principal on loans it had taken for projects agreed upon by former Prime Minister Robert Fico. Instead, Cuba asked for a first postponement and the situation could be repeated with another contract.

Former Prime Minister Robert Fico has visited Cuba several times to open the doors of this Caribbean country to a group of Slovak businessmen. In the end, one company in particular benefited from his efforts, namely the energy company SES Tlmače. It belongs to the empire of financier Daniel Křetinský, who with the help of the J&T group, built the largest energy-industrial group of companies in the whole of Slovakia and the Czech Republic.

Now, however, there is a risk that the financial support received by SES Tlmače may not be returned to us at all. In practice, this would mean that while a private firm of financiers received government support and earned, debts and their recovery would remain on the shoulders of the state.

170 million euro is at risk

SES Tlmače also won two large contracts in Cuba for the modernization of obsolete thermal power plants thanks to Fico’s lobbying. As this is a completely risky country, the company received support from the state-owned Eximbank. In one case she gave a bank guarantee on the loan and in the other she gave the loan straight away.

In total, it was about 170 million euros. Several experts already pointed out at the time that this was a large package of money due to the riskiness of the Caribbean state’s economy. Meanwhile, Havana got into big trouble. In addition to the corona crisis, which has affected vital tourism, the Cuban economy is being dragged down by the tightening US embargo.

It was in the autumn of this year that Cuba was supposed to start repaying the principal on the loans, but in one case it has already asked for a deferral of repayments and will probably do so in the other case as well. The question now is what will happen to these debts. The question remains as to who will ultimately pay for the business – whether it will be taxpayers or whether the state will still be able to recover something from the debt.

The government has insurance

The Ministry of Finance, together with Eximbanka, admits that receivables from Cuba are risky precisely because of the current economic situation there. On the other hand, they deny that Slovakia should lose this money completely and the business of the private company SES Tlmače would eventually be paid for by taxpayers.

Our insurance should be the new treaty on the consolidation of economic relations, which was recently dealt with by the government. Thanks to this agreement, all claims between Eximbank and the Banco Nacional de Cuba can be transferred to the Slovak government and the Cuban government.

„Figuratively speaking, we have a foot in the door. Thanks to this agreement, receivables can be taken to a higher level. At the same time, we are arguing for the collateral that the Cuban party will guarantee if it cannot, does not know or does not want to repay its debt, “ announced Andrea Holíková, Director of the Department of Specific Legal Relations at the Ministry of Finance.

The mentioned collateral could be investments in tourism or mining in Cuba. Patents for Cuban medicines can also be an alternative insurance. Havana owns several medical patents that we could use commercially.

According to Holíková, the contractual documents represent something like a safety net in case Cuba does not have the funds to pay its obligations. „If Cuba pays on time, there is no reason to use these mechanisms, but the Ministry of Finance is preparing for all possible alternatives,“ she added.