Anti-corruption activists have criticised a planned bill aimed at combating money laundering that will create a register of real owners of companies. In a statement on Tuesday the Centre for Independent Investigation said the legislation, which has been prepared for the Ministry of Finance by the Ministry of Justice, will not produce the desired outcome as its contents will not be complete. They and three other NGOs also say access to the data will be limited, with journalists only being able to use it to prevent “crimes and the financing of terrorism”. The Ministry of Justice said the bill was not aimed at creating a public database of firms’ ownership and power structures but at reducing money laundering and the financing of terrorism.
Former top Social Democrat politician David Rath was found guilty of rigging public contacts and accepting bribes and sentenced to eight and a half years in prison at Prague’s Regional court on Thursday. The former member of parliament, health minister, and head of the Central Bohemian region was not in court to hear the verdict. Police swooped on Rath three years ago at his home on the outskirts of Prague and found him in possession of a wine box stuffed with seven million crowns hidden inside. Apart from that, the prosecution said that he had received around 16 million crowns in pay-offs and was promised 22 million crowns. Rath cut a controversial figure on the Czech political scene, known for his inflammatory and personal verbal attacks on opponents. Rath told Czech Television he would appeal the verdict and described the court process as “exemplary theatre and nothing at all to do with justice.” The prosecution called for a sentence of at least nine years and confiscation of his assets.
In a news conference after the court verdict, David Rath said he did not attend the court because as a doctor he gave priority to treating his patients. He added that the sentence had already been decided weeks previously. Rath added that he was thankful that the death penalty no longer existed because he would have probably got that if it had not been abolished. He said that the judges had ignored the testimony of dozens of witnesses and the evidence presented in what was a fabricated case.
The regional court in Prague on Thursday passed a verdict in one of the most closely watched court cases in the country’s modern history. David Rath, a former high ranking member of the Social Democratic Party and governor of Central Bohemia, was found guilty of corruption and manipulating public tenders.
Controversial former Social Democrat minister and head of the Central Bohemian region, David Rath ended his closing address Wednesday in the trial for which he is accused of accepting bribes to rig contracts. Since Monday he had spoken for around 11 hours. Rath at one stage was threatened with a fine by the presiding judge after referring to photos allegedly showing the judge recovering after a drinking spree. Rath could be faced with a prison term of up to 12 years if convicted. The presiding judge said that the verdict will be given on July 23. Previous co-defendants in the same case have already been sentenced in a separate trail. Rath says he is the victim of a police, judicial and political conspiracy.
The corruption trial of David Rath will continue for at least another day after the former politician failed on Tuesday to finish a concluding address that had begun the day before. Mr. Rath’s speech has so far gone on for six hours in total. The former Social Democrat regional governor and health minister was arrested in 2012 on suspicion of accepting bribes to rig contracts. Several others accused alongside him have been found guilty in a separate trial.
Marcela Ondřejová, the lawyer for former Social Democrat MP and governor David Rath, has said that her client be acquitted of corruption charges. In a closing statment on Monday, she told the court that the prosecution's arguments were a mix of conjecture and speculation and charged there was no direct evidence, nor a combination of indirect evidence against her client. Mr Rath is on trial on charges of having taken bribes and of having manipulated public tenders in Central Bohemia. In 2012, he was arrested with a suspected bribe of seven million crowns on his person; if found guilty, he could face a sentence of up to 12 years in prison.
The Czech Republic’s former chief hygiene officer, Michael Vít, has lost an appeal against a three-year suspended sentence for breach of trust. However, the Prague Municipal Court reduced Mr. Vít’s probation period from five to four years. During that time he has to pay the Ministry of Health CZK 1.7 million. Mr. Vít was charged in 2012 with overseeing three rigged tender processes for consultancy services at the ministry.
The president of the Czech Ice Hockey Association says the situation surrounding freshly resigned national team coach Vladimír Růžička has significantly damaged the sport in the country. Mr. Růžička quit on Tuesday after fresh allegations he took bribes to allow their children for the club Slavia Prague. Hockey association chief Tomáš Král said, however, that the affair only concerned one club and several individuals and was not symptomatic of a broader malaise. Mr. Král had backed Mr. Růžička when the first allegations of bribe-taking were made against him, shortly before the Ice Hockey World Championships last month.