Supreme Audit Office (NKÚ) president František Dohnal is profiting from there being almost no way to dismiss him
Budgetary Control Committee chairman Vojtěch Filip (Communists, KSČM) has filed a criminal complaint against František Dohnal, the president of the Supreme Audit Office (NKÚ), for his refusal to cooperate in an audit of the NKÚ’s financial management that the committee had attempted to carry out. This information was confirmed for Czech Position by committee member Roman Sklenák (Social Democrats, ČSSD). The case is now being investigated by the police.
The Chamber of Deputies has also been critical of the steps Dohnal has taken. It has concurred with the Budgetary Control Committee and last week adopted a resolution stating that the “written refusal of an inspection by the president of the NKÚ and his lawsuit against the Chamber of Deputies is causing a serious disruption in the activities of public authority bodies.” Parliamentary Deputy Roman Sklenák says there is no direct connection between the criminal complaint and the parliamentary resolution. “Nonetheless, the bodies that are active in the criminal proceedings can take this parliamentary decision into account,” he adds.
The case concerning the unsuccessful inspection of the NKÚ’s economic activity is being repeated. At the end of 2010, the police already examined Dohnal’s refusal to release documents to the Budgetary Control Committee (whose members were still those appointed by the former Parliament) for an audit. However, the case was shelved in early December. According to detectives, although Dohnal committed the crime of abuse of public office, the Committee had previously imposed a fine of Kč 50,000, so they were unable to charge him.Dohnal clearly holds the record among constitutional officials as far as lawsuits and criminal complaints are concerned.
Dohnal has been consistent in his opinions on the inspection of the NKÚ’s financial activity. He claims that the procedural rules of an audit are not clearly defined by law, and so an inspection by the Budgetary Control Committee would be “disqualified as a political process without any legal relevance.” The NKÚ president sees only one option for resolving the dispute between the committee members and his office: to take the matter to court. Consequently, he also filed a lawsuit against the Chamber of Deputies with a petition for a preliminary ruling. According to Czech Position’s information, however, this petition was rejected.
Dohnal is a record holder
Dohnal clearly holds the record among constitutional officials as far as lawsuits and criminal complaints are concerned. Currently, a court is dealing with a criminal lawsuit. Five disciplinary court actions have been filed, and now there is a second criminal complaint. Incidentally, the NKÚ president is also a substantial player because he has also filed suits against his opponents. The optimum situation would be for the NKÚ president to only file suits when the office uncovers serious misconduct.
This institution certainly should not be led by a person who has had lawsuits and criminal complaints filed against him in connection with leasing luxury apartments or with not allowing an inspection of the NKÚ’s financial management. It is most likely that a verdict will be delivered on Friday for the case involving the lease of luxury apartments.
What is depressing about the entire affair is the fact that Dohnal is essentially undismissable. Dismissing the NKÚ president is only possible when he has been lawfully convicted of an offense or if the NKÚ disciplinary committee petitions the Chamber of Deputies for his dismissal. The Czech president (Václav Klaus) has the final say on whether the NKÚ head should be removed from office.
It is most likely that a verdict will be delivered on Friday for the case involving the lease of luxury apartments. Even if Dohnal is found guilty he will not automatically lose his job. If he lodges an appeal, the verdict will not come into legal effect.
There will be no legal route to solving the Dohnal problem in the foreseeable future. His nine-year mandate at the helm of the NKÚ expires in 2014. All the court appeal processes will most probably not have been completed by that time. Unless the prime minister, president or some high-ranking politician intervenes, Dohnal will stay in his job for the remainder of his term of office.
In many cases, representatives of the state assert their political influence. It’s true that they are then often criticised for political “deals.” In the case of the NKÚ, at least some reaction would be appropriate. But apart from the recent parliamentary resolution and the criminal complaint of the Budgetary Control Committee, nothing has happened up to now. NKÚ President Dohnal remains of peripheral interest.
At the end of last year, the Police President Oldřich Martinů left his job. He announced his decision shortly after a meeting with President Václav Klaus. Martinů departed from the meeting with Klaus in possession of a silver plaque for people who have excelled in their field, and he emotionally announced his retirement. Isn’t it time to invite Dohnal to the Castle and to give him a medal (although it would be hard to say exactly for what)? And shouldn’t his job then be given to someone more trustworthy?