At a time when Czech politicians are about to lose many of their perks, one man stands corrected. The head of the Supreme Audit Office is suspected of having enjoyed more privileges than his position merits.
A four-bedroom penthouse apartment, three luxury cars and the best money can buy: František Dohnal is not reticent about enjoying the perks of a man in high office. The trouble is he is not the head of a private company but that of a state institution and the said luxuries are financed by tax-payers. Some time ago members of his own board of directors pointed a finger at him and the man used to wielding power and auditing others had to submit his own finances to the test. The outcome of a police investigation suggests that the head of the Supreme Audit Office may have abused his position – with the damage estimated at close to a million crowns to date.
The state attorney for Prague 7 has sent the case to court where, if found guilty, Mr. Dohnal could receive punishment ranging from a steep fine to five years in prison.
His lawyer Václav Vlk claims that the case has been artificially fabricated to damage his client and intends to build the defense on the principle of relativity.
“My client is accused of using an unreasonably large flat. The dispute hinges on the word “unreasonably” and the point is how do you define an unreasonably large flat – that is the question.”
František Dohnal himself will not comment on the case and refuses to step down unless the court finds him guilty. However his position has become increasingly shaky and he appears to be dragging the reputation of the Audit Office down with him. Last year he created a stir when he refused to allow a parliamentary commission to look into the Audit Office’s finances and unceremoniously ordered the MPs out of the building. He was later fined 50,000 crowns for the incident. Now the police are looking into the case on suspicion of possible mismanagement of company finances, on the assumption that Dohnal would have allowed the audit to go ahead if he had nothing to hide. The institution’s boss says he acted on principle since the committee in question was not authorized to conduct such an audit. Whatever the reason, the move has not helped the Supreme Audit Office which may soon go from being the hunter to the hunted.