Czech lawyer says he would hand over files only with TD's consent

 

Czech lawyer Dr Richard Kavalek has confirmed he is in possession of the company files of The Irish Consortium, a Czech property consultancy in which Dublin North West TD Mr Liam Lawlor has a shareholding.

However, Dr Kavalek said that if the Flood tribunal asked him to hand over the files, he would only do so with Mr Lawlor's consent.

"Of course we have the files . . . but I see no legal reason why I should have to hand over the files without Mr Lawlor's permission," he said yesterday.

???????????alek to hand over the documents if his lawyers instructed him to do so.

"This is a genuine misunderstanding. I wanted to make the fullest disclosure to the tribunal and to make all anomalies understood," he said yesterday, saying he did not know in advance that he would be questioned about his Czech business interests at the tribunal.

Mr Kavalek said he was surprised to hear of inquiries into Mr Lawlor's business affairs.

"Mr Lawlor might have some strange ideas sometimes but he is an honest man trying to do honest business. I would happily sign a statement saying that," he said.

Mr Lawlor has a one-third shareholding in the property consulting company, which operated from December 1993 out of an apartment in Prague. The remaining shareholding is divided between two other Irishmen.

The business was run by an associate, Mr Conor McElliot, now deceased. Mr McElliot closed the Prague office after two years in December 1995, leaving behind unpaid phone bills totalling £900 and company files.

The current tenant of the apartment has since destroyed the files, which Mr Lawlor has described as "unimportant catalogues". He said all the important company documents were with his Prague lawyer, Dr Kavalek.

Dr Kavalek declined to comment on the quantity or nature of the files he is holding.

Mr Lawlor has said he was involved in property projects in Prague and in Plzen, 50 miles south-west of Prague, with "several Czech municipalities". Some of the deals are taking place through The Irish Consortium, which is still active as a company although it no longer has a Prague office.

Dr Kavalek declined to say if he had current dealings with Mr Lawlor relating to these projects. He said he was unsure of the last time he had spoken to Mr Lawlor, either in the last few days or weeks, but said he had been a frequent visitor to Prague.

On one visit Mr Lawlor had brought along PR consultant Mr Frank Dunlop and introduced him to the then Czech trade and industry minister Mr Vladimir Dlouhy. Mr Dunlop held exploratory talks with Mr Dlouhy about setting up a PR company in Prague, but nothing came of the visit, according to Mr Lawlor. Mr Lawlor invoiced Mr Dunlop £38,000 for "consultancy fees" related to the trip.

Mr Dlouhy resigned from the Czech government in 1997 after being implicated in a corruption scandal.

Yesterday he said he had no recollection of Mr Dunlop's visit and that he had no interests in any property companies.