An intriguing Pan-European paper trail has emerged after the Moesern-based For Friends Hotel filed for bankruptcy. Initial indications of ownership remaining in the Freninger family who previously owned the For Friends’ predecessor the Mosererhof appear to have been wide of the mark, fresh data suggesting a cabal of Czech companies held at arms length the business which has lasted barely a year before creditors, exposed to €15 million of aggregated debt, have called in their liabilities with Tirol’s Hypo Bank having the most cause for concern, their debt burden accounting for 80% of the For Friends’s obligations.

Front or shell companies are common throughout the business world and the existence of one or several Czech-based institutions with a vested interest in the hotel does not necessarily indicate a lack of transparency or impropriety in its operation or, that Czech involvement extends to merely the opening of mailbox companies. Subsequent drilling down into the ownership of the For Friends has though unearthed a Ukrainian interest in the property, whose tentacles surprisingly penetrate deep into the very heart of Kiev high-society. Quite how a former deputy Environment Minister and President of the Ukrainian Ice Hockey Federation have come to be involved in a newly constructed Tirolean hotel, especially one that has subsequently folded spectacularly under an eye watering construction overspend of €7 million that accounted for 29% of the project’s final cost, is far from clear.

How Ukrainian and Czech interests become interlinked is equally baffling, although until a few months ago Tirolean tourism consultant Wolfgang Helmuth Eder controlled a majority 60% stake in the hotel when it appears he divested his shareholding to Levi Holdings, the Czech company tasked with implementing an idealistic conceptual model for the former Mosererhof. There is undeniably a possibility that the murky political situation and bilateral sabre-rattling between Ukraine and Russia has prompted many in the former Soviet Republic to move their money overseas for safer investment opportunities, similar to the Sovereign Wealth Funds created by oil-rich Middle Eastern states. At this point there are no suggestions that such a scenario has been played out or that any financial fraud has been committed but in this most unlikely of backdrops, a trans-European saga is unfolding that promises to deliver more unforeseen twists and turns on the Seefeld Plateau.

Further reading on this matter can be found at:

Tiroler Tageszeitung: For Friends Hotel bankruptcy paper trail arrives in Ukraine, via Czech Republic