Prime Minister Andrej Babiš has gone back on a promise to implement a Code of Ethics for cabinet ministers, instructing the Ministry of Justice to stop work on draft guidelines and focus instead on a new lobbying law. Advocates for greater transparency in government see it as a blow to the fight against corruption.
The Czech branch of the anti-corruption watchdog Transparency International
has released a report on which parties and candidates for the Senate have
conducted the most transparent campaigns.
According to the report, the campaigns of the Pirates, Greens, Party of Mayors (Stan), and Top 09 have been the most above board. Among the 135 individual candidates, Transparency International named six stand-outs: Eva Tylová, Libor Michalek, Jiří Kratky (all of the Pirates), Zdeněk Hraba (for STAN) and Herbert Paver (TOP 09).
Among the criteria were whether the candidates had made public their campaign revenue and budget, and the names of members of their teams.
The Supreme Court has ruled that a regional court acted illegally six years ago in authorising the wiretapping of investigative journalist Janek Kroupa, who was digging into alleged corruption in a multi-billion crown military tender. The ruling further sets important precedents in requiring judges to explicitly justify any police surveillance of journalists, which infringes upon their right to protect their sources and the Constitutional right to freedom of expression.
The Czech branch of anti-corruption watchdog Transparency International has
sent a formal complaint to the European Commission alleging a conflict of
interest between PM Andrej Babiš and his economic interests in relation to
the Agrofert group.
The complaint alleges that Mr Babiš is both founder and beneficiary of trust funds overseeing Agrofert, giving him de facto control of a company with a deep interest in issues at stake in Common Agricultural Policy reform and broader EU budget negotiations.
Under EU rules, persons involved in the implementation and administration of the bloc’s budget must “refrain from any action likely to bring their interests into conflict with the interests of the Union.”
Czech police have charged four suspects with corruption over a contract to
restore the Kuks castle in East Bohemia. The historical Baroque complex was
restored between 2013 and 2015 at a cost of more than 322 million crowns
(12 million euros). Most of the money came from EU funds.
A police spokesperson said the tender offer was allegedly written to match the winning bid by a consortium comprised of the Hochtief construction company and the Gema Art Group. If found guilty, the suspects face up to eight years in prison.
The biggest contract in the modern history of the Czech Army will not be
awarded on the basis of a public tender process, Czech Television reported.
The Ministry of Defence intends to directly address potential suppliers of
over 200 mechanised infantry combat vehicles, the station said. The
contract should come in at a cost of CZK 53 billion.
An army spokesperson said there were few suppliers of such hardware and that it would consider offers from four producers that met its requirements. Military chiefs want the vehicles to be supplied by 2020.
According to the Supreme Audit Office (NKÚ), three major Czech hospitals
bought medical supplies and medicines without seeking competitive offers
between 2014 and 2016, in violation of the public procurement law.
Inspectors found that during that period Brno University Hospital (FNB), Motol Hospital (FNM) and the Central Military Hospital (ÚVN) also paid wildly different amounts for identical drugs and devices purchased from the same supplier.
Apart from examining the procurement process, the Office is also examining the pay-out of bonuses to the respective hospital directors.
The police have begun investigating claims by the ex-wife of former prime
minister Jiří Paroubek that he illegally acquired millions of crowns
while he was the leader of the Social Democrats, iRozhlas.cz reported,
citing a state attorney.
Petra Paroubková made the allegations in an interview last week. The pair are currently divorcing.
Mr. Paroubek says his ex-partner is attempting to scupper his chances in Senate elections in October, when he will be standing as an independent.
The Czech Republic awarded 14,847 contracts worth a total of 198.7 billion
crowns in the first half of the year, an increase of about a third in value
in annual terms, according to CEEC Research data.
The largest single tender, worth 14 billion crowns, was commissioned by Čepro in January for the supply of specific types of oil by rail. Construction and infrastructure contracts, as usual, made up the lion’s share of tenders.
The ex-wife of former Czech prime minister, Jiří Paroubek, has accused
him of illegally acquiring millions of crowns when he was head of the
Social Democrats. Petra Paroubková made the allegations in an interview
for Televize Seznam.
For his part, Mr. Paroubek says his former partner is attempting to undermine his chances in Senate elections in October, when he will be standing in the Ostrava constituency as an independent.
Petra Paroubková also said she knew other politicians who had made far higher illegal earnings than her ex-husband.