Czech career diplomat Juraj Chmiel, a former minister for European Affairs, has been charged in connection with contracts he signed off on when ambassador to Australia, the Czech daily Právo reported on Friday, citing an unidentified source close to the investigation.
A spokesman for the police anti-corruption and financial crime unit (ÚOKFK), Jaroslav Ibehej, said a former Czech ambassador was being prosecuted but would not disclose further details.
According to Právo, when ambassador to Australia from 2008 to 2009 Chmiel signed contracts worth hundreds of thousands of crowns that the Ministry of Foreign Affair’s General Inspectorate subsequently determined were non-transparent, and had likely violated budgetary and financial control rules.
The Czech news agency ČTK said Chmiel has been charged with abuse of office and breaching the public trust for allegedly violating public procurement law.
A police investigation had begun when Chmiel — known at the time as “Mr Europe” — was serving as minister for European Affairs during the caretaker government of Jan Fischer (unaffiliated), from late November 2009 through July 2010. He has denied any misconduct.
Earlier media reports said Chmiel had signed two contracts that raised questions: commissioning a study on the status and development of tourism in the South Pacific (for Kč 470,000) and an analysis of potential waste management sites on the Cook Islands, Samoa and Fiji (for for Kč 495,000).
Chmiel, 51, entered the diplomatic corps in 1992 and held several positions within the Ministry of Foreign Affairs before being nominated by the Civic Democrats (ODS) as minister for European Affairs. He was a specialist in Africa at that time. From July 2010 until last December, he served as Deputy Ministry of Agriculture, in charge of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) and Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) of the European Union.