The Prague Regional Court will begin a second trial of former top politician David Rath in October, Czech Television reported on Tuesday, quoting the court’s website. The same institution found Mr. Rath guilty of bribe-taking two years ago but he was freed by an appeals court, which ruled that wiretaps used to prosecute the one-time Social Democrat health minister and regional governor were inadmissible. Since then the Supreme Court has ruled such recordings can be used as evidence. Mr. Rath was originally sentenced to eight and a half years for allegedly taking kick-backs to rig public contracts.
Prague’s Supreme Court has handed a five-year jail term to Marek Dalík, who was found guilty of attempting to solicit a bribe in connection with a military hardware contract while he was an advisor to then prime minister Mirek Topolanek. Mr. Dalík was previously sentenced to four years for the same offence but was freed earlier this year over formal shortcomings in the original trial. His latest conviction came despite a change in his testimony. He was accused of seeking a bribe of CZK 50,000,000 from the company Steyr in 2007 to smooth a deal to buy armoured carriers for the Czech Army.
The Czech Republic should step up its efforts to detect, investigate and prosecute foreign bribery, according to a new OECD report released on Thursday. The report, which evaluates the country’s implementation of the Convention on Combating Bribery of Foreign Politician in International Business Transactions, says Prague must improve its system combating foreign bribery, especially in view of the country’s export-oriented economy. Seventeen years after ratifying the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention, the Czech Republic has yet to prosecute a case involving the bribery of foreign public officials.
The police have arrested three people on suspicion of manipulating public tenders for work on the premises of the president’s summer residence Lany Chateau. The three are employees of Lesní správa Lány, an organization administering close to six hectares of land and forests which belong to the Office of the President. They are said to have manipulated public tenders worth 60 million crowns. The police allegedly raided the office of the organization and employees' private homes. The Office of the President has not so far commented on the development.
The Czech Football Association failed to elect new leaders at a meeting in Prague on Friday. Even after three rounds of voting the top two candidates to be chairman, Martin Malík and Petr Fousek, failed to obtain the majority needed to occupy that the top position. The stalemate means that Mirolsav Pelta remains association chairman although he is currently in police custody related to a suspected sports funds fraud involving the Ministry of Education. A special general assembly of the association should be held at the latest by November 31. The two frontrunners from Friday failed to win sufficient support from both Bohemian and Moravian delegates. They have not confirmed whether they will stand again.
Spending watchdog the Supreme Audit Office (NKÚ) says in a report that the Ministry of Education distributed money to sport in a non-transparent and ad hoc manner between 2013 and 2015. The report issued on Monday said that a points system of awarding funds was dropped between 2013 and 2014 when it suited the ministry. Guidelines for co-financing also varied widely without any clear reason. The current outgoing minister, Kateřina Valachová, said that the problems stemmed from previous ministers and that she had to carry out a series of audits when she took over the post. Sports funding from the ministry is currently the focus of a scandal with the head of the Czech football association and a former deputy minister at the education ministry among the main suspects.
President Milos Zeman on Sunday met with the minister of education, youth and sports Kateřina Valachová, who announced her resignation after one of her deputies was charged with large-scale corruption. Valachova said the president asked her to reconsider her decision in view of the strong backing she had from teachers and sportspeople. However the minister said she would stand by her decision and expected to leave office at the end of the month as agreed. Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka has already proposed a replacement.
The governor of the South Bohemia Region, Jiří Zimola of the Social Democrats, has officially resigned from his post. Mr. Zimola announced his move earlier this month in the wake of the collapse of a regional government coalition comprised of the Social Democrats and two other parties. His resignation was the condition for the Social Democrats to negotiate a new coalition. Zimola, who has been governor for nearly nine years, will be replaced in the post by his deputy Ivana Stráská. Zimola has been blemished by criticism over the earnings of top hospital managers and revelations about some of his property deals.
The Czech upper house, the Senate, has abolished a wide range of exemptions from what is seen as a key anti-corruption proposal. Many backers of the proposal, which forces state and other companies to declare contracts they have signed, said the measure would be almost meaningless with the wide raft of exemptions proposed in the previous version agreed by the lower house. Senators on Wednesday voted that exemptions should only apply to the state brewery company, Budějovický Budvar, and some healthcare centres. That version, which also calls on agreements of the parliament, president’s office, and Constitutional Court amongst others to be made public, will now return to the lower house.