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Police Investigate Czech Whisky Trebitsch: Dozens of Investors Fail to Recover Their Money, Company Is in Insolvency

Translated by Milo Dvorak

6. 6. 2024

Business Newsletter #40

Good morning,

There are a myriad of different forms of investment offering at least just as many forms of returns. In this instance, it would appear, the form was supposed to be barrels of whisky.

Published by on 31 May 2024.

newsletter 40
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Police are investigating whether the company’s intentions were fraudulent from the outset. They are also examining whether all the alcohol sold was genuinely produced.

Regional criminal investigators in Vysočina are looking into a potential fraud involving investment in alcohol, which could amount to tens of millions of crowns. The police are scrutinising Česká Whisky, part of the Trebitsch Holding group of companies, which offered investments in barrels of whisky.

The Třebíč-based manufacturer began offering the option to invest in barrels filled with the distillate in 2020, promising an annual interest rate of eight per cent on the invested money. According to police spokeswoman Dana Čírtková, individual investors gave the company hundreds of thousands of crowns. "Once they realised that no interest payments would be made, the number of reports to the police increased. We also want people to come forward and join the proceedings," Čírtková said. The associated issues were previously highlighted by the Seznam Zprávy portal.

Investigators describe the case as very extensive and unusual, with dozens of affected individuals approaching the police after failing to receive their payments. "There is a group of investors reporting significant financial losses, while another group is directly contacting the company to retrieve their barrels," Čírtková added. Police are investigating whether the company’s intentions were fraudulent from the outset and whether all the sold alcohol was actually produced.

Insolvency proceedings against Trebitsch Holding began on 13th May, initiated by two creditors. In 2020, they purchased distillate worth over CZK 180,000, expecting the company to repurchase it in 2023 for more than CZK 225,000. When this did not happen, they gave the debtor another chance, as stated in the insolvency petition, signing an addendum to receive nearly CZK 248,000 a year later. However, this also did not materialise.

Čírtková also noted that the investors could not legally access the alcohol, even though they are the owners. Excise tax regulations, overseen by customs officials, require spirits to be kept in a tax warehouse, where only the warehouse operator can handle them, not the owner of the alcohol. Only the tax warehouse operator can market the alcohol, thereby incurring the obligation to declare and pay the tax.

People are not allowed to retrieve the alcohol in barrels because the distillate can only be marketed in bottles with a revenue stamp. According to Čírtková, investors likely underestimated the knowledge required for handling alcohol.

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