A number of major financial institutions in the Czech Republic were attacked by hackers on Wednesday morning. The websites and internet banking sites of the Czech National Bank and large banks like Česká spořitelna, Komerční banka, and ČSOB were down for a number of hours due to the cyber attack. The website of the Prague Stock Exchange has also been affected, while smaller banks like mBank and AirBank were not attacked by hackers. Spokesperson from the Česká spořitelna bank said that customers’ personal data has not been compromised. This comes in the wake of cyber attacks conducted earlier this week against Czech news websites and the search engine Seznam.
The anti-corruption police has made a series of arrests on Tuesday and Wednesday on massive tax evasion charges. Nine people around the country have been charged so far, with eight remaining in police custody. According to the police, suspects were involved in tax evasion by issuing phony invoices to each other’s companies, with damages to the state running into tens of millions of crowns. During some 30 home searches, detectives were able to secure 45 million crowns in cash, as well as some property.
Unemployment in the Czech Republic hit a record high at the start of the year. January saw close to 590,000 people out of work, the worst unemployment rate since the Great Depression in the 1930s. The government says this is largely the result of external factors, but critics and trade unions claim the government’s ill-conceived austerity measures have undercut growth.
The police have begun investigating 10 people in connection with a suspicious contract for IT services at the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs, a spokesperson said on Saturday. The story was reported in the newspaper Lidove noviny, which said that the supreme state attorney, Lenka Bradáčová, had said the suspects included both present and former employees of the ministry. Jaromír Drábek resigned as labour minister in October after a close associate, who was had been his deputy, was accused of corruption.
The state budget surplus in February dropped to 5.6 billion crowns from January’s 42.4 billion, the Finance Ministry said on Friday. Even so it is the best result since 2000. In February 2012 the budget showed a 16.6 billion crown deficit. This year’s state budget was approved with a projected 100 billion crown deficit.
The Prague State Attorney’s Office has asked the police to investigate accusations of corruption against Prime Minister Petr Necas stemming from a criminal complaint filed by defence lawyer Václav Láska. Láska’s complaint alleges that the prime minister promised three Civic Democrat deputies lucrative posts in state-owned companies if they gave up their seats in the lower house to allow the government’s controversial tax package to win approval. A criminal complaint has also been filed against the three now former deputies, Marek Šnajdr, Petr Tluchoř and Ivan Fuksa. Marek Šnajdr later got a seat on the supervisory board of the company Čepro, while Ivan Fuksa was named managing director of Czech Aeroholding. According to media reports Petr Tluchoř is allegedly being considered for a post in the power giant ČEZ.
The winner of the eighths annual poll for the most absurd Czech bank fee has been announced. According to the anti-fee watchdog website bankovnipoplatky.com, which conducted the poll, the most absurd fee is the fee for using an ATM machine to find out one’s balance which received 36 percent of votes. In some cases this fee was actually higher than that for taking out money from an ATM machine of one’s own bank. Second place went to the fee banks charge for managing a mortgage account, which received 22 percent of votes and third place went to the fee banks charge for sending you an electronic bank statement.
In business news this week: monthly Czech household debt has fallen for the first time in 11 years, while consumer confidence went up; Telefónica released lower earning figures for last year than was expected; food produced Hamé wants to expand to Africa and the Middle East; plan for the Czech-Austrian Mozart pipeline has been revived; produced of esophagus stents wins Czech innovation prize; year-on-year profits for Czech pension funds went up last year.
Household debt in the Czech Republic fell month-on-month in January for the first time since September 2001, according to data just released. Last month Czechs owed CZK 1.164 trillion to banks and other financial institutions, twice the figure recorded 11 years ago. The Czech Republic is currently going through its longest recession on record and the decline in household debt suggests that Czechs are worried about spending, preferring to save than owe money.
Outgoing Czech President Václav Klaus received an award from the Slovak Entrepreneur’s Association on Wednesday, the second day of his visit to Bratislava. The association praised Mr Klaus’s role in the economic transformation of Czechoslovakia and later the Czech Republic from a central economy to a free market economy after 1989. Mr Klaus served as finance minister in Czechoslovakia and then prime minister in the Czech Republic, overseeing wide-ranging but often criticised reforms in the 1990s. In Bratislava, the president – who leaves office next week – discussed the EU and slammed the union as no longer being a symbol of prosperity. An outspoken EU critic, he also downplayed the negative impact of a member state leaving the euro zone, citing the Czech Republic’s and Slovakia’s own split and successful separation of currency.
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