OLT parent under scrutiny by Polish authorities

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Amber Gold, the Gdansk-based investment house that owns Polish-German airline group OLT Express, is fighting for its reputation after the Polish Financial Supervision Authority KNF warned that the firm is operating without a banking licence.

Amber Gold is suing KNF at a court in Warsaw, arguing that the authority's public warning had a "significant impact" on its reputation and credibility, and is "undermining the basis of its activities".

KNF lists Amber Gold among a number of financial entities that do not have the authority's licence for banking activities. KNF adds that this specifically concerns "accepting cash deposits in order to charge them with risk".

A feud between the two sides has been smouldering since December 2009, when KNF issued its first warning and - according to Amber Gold - reported a "suspected crime to the prosecution". The Gdansk-based firm says in a statement, however, that the authority neither clarified the "unspecified doubts" nor explained their legal basis.

Amber Gold adds that the prosecutor's examinations showed "no abnormalities".

The investigation focused on sales of gold, silver and platinum "among other acquisitions". According to Amber Gold, it concluded that customers' deposits were "safe and are covered in gold, as defined in the contracts". This raises questions about whether KNF's motivation was "political", the firm says.

Last year, Amber Gold bought Polish carriers Jet Air and Yes Air as well as the then ailing German-based regional carrier OLT. The three airlines were brought together to form OLT Express, with separate operations in Poland and Germany. The latter is currently taking over Lufthansa's former regional partner Contact Air in Stuttgart.

Neither KNF nor Amber Gold could be reached for immediate comment.