ČSSD leader Bohuslav Sobotka (left) has called on David Rath (center) to resign from the party and step down from his post
Czech police have reportedly uncovered Kč 30 million in cash stashed under the floorboards of the home of a prominent Social Democrat (ČSSD) politician who has been arrested on bribery and other charges; Central Bohemian governor David Rath had Kč 7 million in cash on him at the time of the arrest, in a box he claims he thought contained a gift of bottles of wine.
Citing a source familiar with the investigation, the daily Mladá fronta Dnes reported Wednesday that detectives found the hidden stash in a search of the Rath’s home that lasted several hours, and that the police left with several bags of evidence.
Rath and seven other people were arrested in a swoop that involved more than 100 police officers. He has been charged with bribery, damaging the European Union’s interests and abuse of public contracts over a EU-sponsored project to reconstruct a hospital in Kladno, a city within Rath’s administrative region; the hospital’s director, Kateřina Pancová, is alleged to have delivered the Kč 7 million bribe, the handover of which was captured by police on video.
The ČSSD deputy’s parliamentary immunity did not apply due to a provision in Czech law that a legislator caught red-handed during the commission of a criminal act cannot enjoy this privilege.
According to the business daily Hospodářské noviny, since the election of Rath to the post of regional governor in 2008, Central Bohemia has spent some Kč 3.2 billion on healthcare, including Kč 1.3 billion on a new facility at the Kladno hospital — for which Rath spent Kč 300 million on equipment, paying 50 percent more than warranted.
Mladá fronta Dnes noted that on the very first day in office, Rath replaced all directors of the hospitals operated by the Central Bohemia regional authorities. And the doctor and former health minister subsequently pushed through extensive personnel changes.
Social Democrat leader Bohuslav Sobotka has called for Rath and other ČSSD members allegedly involved in the scandal to resign from the party and step down from their public positions. Sobotka said Rath will have to give up his reelection bid and the ČSSD will now have to find another candidate.