PRAGUE -- The Czech Republic's leading financier has failed to appear in court to testify against a former secret police agent he has accused of blackmail, and may be in the United States for medical treatment, a Prague newspaper said Tuesday.
The Mlada Fronta Dnes newspaper said Czech investigators have been unable to locate Viktor Kozeny, president of the Harvard Group of Funds, the country's second largest stock market mutual fund.
There have been widespread allegations that Kozeny bought secret government files detailing the private lives of top government officials, including Czech Prime Minister Valcav Klaus, from former secret agent Vaclav Wallis.
Kozeny, a 30-year old Harvard educated Czech emigre rose to prominence almost overnight with a brilliant advertising campaign that attracted one in 10 Czechs to entrust him with their shares of then- Czechoslovakia's privatized state companies.
With advice from New York-based Prudential Securities, Inc, Kozeny acquired a significant share in 51 of the Czech Republic's top companies.
Kozeny's deputy, Petra Wendelova, told United Press International that the financier was ailing and was being treated abroad by his mother, who is a physician.
Wendelova said police had not contacted the Harvard companies about Kozeny's disappearance, and said his illness was 'not serious.'
'Viktor is still president of the Harvard Companies and I don't think there is any reason to doubt his ability to continue his functions,' she added.
Kozeny maintains that he was blackmailed by Wallis and that he only paid Wallis in a misguided attempt to buy off the blackmailer.
Police say Kozeny has broken no laws, but they are determined that he testify at Wallis' trial.
A spokesman for the state prosecutor's office said authorities could not seek Kozeny's extradition but could ask the financier to return voluntarily.
Before details of the alleged backmailing were made public, the Interior Ministry gave Kozeny an automatic pistol and police bodyguards.
The scandal has titillated the Czech press for over a year, amid inconsistencies in Kozeny's accounts of the alleged blackmailing and of his relationship with the prime minister and other top officials.
Police have linked the Wallis affair to the murder in a Prague apartment of a Czech radio journalist, who allegedly had a homosexual relationship with a Cabinet minister in the government of what was then Czechoslovakia.