Jaroslav Veselý, the founder and owner of the firm ProMoPro which was paid hundreds of millions of crowns by the Czech government for providing audio visual equipment and interpreting services during its EU presidency, has been arrested by anti-corruption police. The affair threatens current Defense Minister Alexandr Vondra (Civic Democrat, ODS), the former minister for European Affairs.
Charges will be filed against representatives of ProMoPro, which in 2009 provided audio-visual and interpreting services to the Czech government during the EU Presidency, and an official in the Czech Government Office, Hospodářské noviny (HN) reported Friday. The news come following an investigation lasting over a year; according to the daily, then-EU affairs minster Alexandr Vondra will not face charges.
Anti-corruption police will charge 10 people in connection with a lucrative contract awarded without a tender during the Czech Republic’s turn at the helm of the rotating EU Presidency (January-June 2009) to ProMoPro, a domestic company that provides audiovisual services. The non-competitive contract was awarded by then Minister for European Affairs Alexandr Vondra (Civic Democrats, ODS), who is now the defense minister, and the Finance Ministry.
Prague prosecutors have asked UK authorities for help in tracing companies related to a high-profile case of alleged fraud around the audiovisual services firm ProMoPro that occurred during the Czechs’ EU Presidency. Just as ČEZ’s Martin Roman was (allegedly) traced to offshore trusts getting payments from Škoda Plzeň, so too could be the elusive Inteprod Ltd., which got some Kč 135 mln via ProMoPro.
The Czech watchdog on the privacy of personal information, the (ÚOOÚ), has fined the Finance Ministry Kč 80,000 for releasing details of the bank account of a businessman suspected of ripping off the state in a contract to provide services during the country’s EU presidency. The company, ProMoPro, has become a byword for gouging the state after a non-competitive tender.
In the middle of the Czech Presidency of the EU in 2009, then minister for EU affairs Alexandra Vondra asked Finance Minister Miroslav Kalousek for an extra Kč 371 million to finance events within the framework of the presidency. Kalousek obliged without verifying how the money would be spent. Hitherto, Kalousek has been among the most vociferous in calling for Vondra to be brought to account for spending on the EU presidency in connection with the firm ProMoPro.
A special session of the lower house of parliament called to debate the ProMoPro scandal over an inflated bill for services provided during the Czech EU presidency is likely to provide the stage for further in-fighting between the weakened government coalition.
ProMoPro, the firm contracted to provide audiovisual and interpreting services during the Czech EU presidency in 2009, paid Kč 378 million to the firm NWDC as a subcontractor. It has yet to be revealed for what or why NWDC received this sum, but Czech Position has discovered that NWDC was sold for a ridiculously low price — at the start of the Czech EU presidency. And the owner is not who it is reported to be.
Debate rages as to whether Defense Minister Alexandr Vondra (Civic Democrats, ODS) erred in the ProMoPro case and should therefore resign. ProMoPro won the contract for the provision of conference services during the Czech EU Presidency without a tender — on the grounds that it had “exclusive” rights to provide services in the Prague Congress Center. Nevertheless, the owner of the company admits that use of the term is “unfortunate.”
The trust of the public continues to elude Defense Minister Alexandr Vonrda. A majority of respondents to a SANEP poll continue to find Vondra untrustworthy and say he should step down from politics. People who support the Civic Democrats (ODS) tended to have a move favorable view of Vondra, but still had high levels of reservations. Almost half of ODS voters say the scandal could lead to the collapse of the center right ruling coalition.