Slovakia's top prosecutor drops charges against billionaire

PRAGUE (Reuters) - Slovakia's attorney general dropped charges against the country's second-richest man, Jaroslav Hascak, on Tuesday, halting one of Slovakia's most high-profile cases due to lack of evidence.

Hascak, a founding partner of Czech-Slovak Penta Investments, a private-equity group with assets in central Europe valued at 11.1 billion euros in 2020, was charged last December with money-laundering and other crimes.

The office of Attorney General Maros Zilinka said that "evidence was not provided in such volume and quantity which would allow, at this stage, to draw suspicion at a reasonable level of probability that the charged committed the crimes they are accused of," TASR news agency reported.

The prosecution also dropped charges against a former counter-intelligence chief and his wife.

The case, in which Hascak has denied any wrongdoing, stems from wiretaps from 2005 in which he and other businessmen allegedly discussed bribes with government officials.

Prague-based Penta, founded in the 1990s, has investments in real estate, healthcare, media and the financial sector. Its companies employ 43,000 people and the group earned profit of 134 million euros in 2020 on revenue of 6.9 billion euros.

(Reporting by Robert Muller; Editing by Sandra Maler)

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