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.
The Supreme Court has ordered the release from prison of infamous Czech lobbyist and advisor to former prime minister Mirek Topolánek, Marek Dalík. Dalík has been serving a five year sentence, later reduced to four, for taking bribes. The reasons for the court ruling are to be given in writing. Dalík was investigated by police and later sentenced over a massive army contract for transporters from the Austrian company Steyr with the court originally accepting that he promised to influence the contract for payment of 18 million euros, around 500 million crowns. Dalík maintained he was not guilty.
The Czech Republic has made significant progress in tackling corruption and increasing transparency in party financing, according to a report by the Council of Europe Group of States Against Corruption (GRECO). The report says that Prague has now fulfilled 9 of the 13 recommendations it was given by the council but regrets the lack of progress in implementing its recommendations concerning the criminalisation of corruption. These are to accelerate the process of signing and ratifying the Additional Protocol to the Criminal Law Convention on Corruption and to clarify that all public sector employees, in particular those exercising ancillary jobs, fall within the scope of the bribery and trading in influence provisions. GRECO has consistently monitored the situation in the Czech Republic and says the country has made significant progress in the field.
Thousands of euros in bribe money acquired by middlemen abusing the Czech visa system in Ukraine are going to Poland, Czech Television reported on Tuesday. According to Czech Television’s investigative reporters the money collected from Ukrainian workers seeking to get a work permit in the Czech Republic are taken to a person in Katowice who alone can enter names into the Czech consulate’s Visapoint system where the list of applicants has been blocked for months in advance. Czech Radio’s reporters also confirmed earlier that the issuing of visas for Ukrainian workers has turned into a booming business for agents and middlemen. The Czech Foreign Ministry has said it is aware of the problem and is working to tackle it.