The father of the top Czech politician who police say was caught red handed in a major corruption scandal says that Kč 10 million stashed at his son’s home comes from his savings, and is not his son’s money.
Ratmír Rath, the 71-year-old father of Social Democrat (ČSSD) MP David Rath, a former health minister and — until his arrest this month on corruption charges — governor of the Central Bohemia region, says a police search of his son’s house on the outskirts of Prague could have uncovered the Kč 10 million squirreled away in a secret hiding place.
But Ratmír insists that the cash comes from a sum he handed over to his son when he was toying with the idea of buying a house in the town of Hostivice and comes from his savings after trained endocrinologist worked as a consultant in the oil-rich gulf state of Qatar, according to a report in Thursday’s edition of the Czech daily Lidové noviny. Rath’s father says he was paid “like a king” during his Qatar stay in the 1990s.
Police say they found Rath taking a Kč 7 million bribe in a wine box when they pounced on him last week following a long surveillance operation with reports of a separate sum of Kč 30 million discovered under the floorboards at the house of another one of the seven suspected detained alongside the politician, Kateřina Pancová. But so far no mention has so far been made of exceptional sums of cash being stashed in Rath’s home.
Lidové noviny said police had been trying to keep details about the Kč 10 million quiet although it was indirectly referred to in a note sent by Rath to the lower house of parliament’s mandate and immunity committee.
Rath, who has held onto his seat in the lower house of parliament and demanded to appear before it to state his version of events that he is the innocent victim of a political plot, is currently being detained in custody. The parliamentary committee, which met Tuesday, must make a recommendation to the lower house on whether his parliamentary immunity is lifted. Police were able to proceed against Rath immediately last week under Czech rules that allow police to act against members of parliament apprehended in the middle of a crime.
The police swoop on the high profile Social Democratic politician has been described as one of the biggest scandals of recent years, standing out for the fact that police succeeded in mounting a complicated surveillance of the main suspects and appear to have brought a high-ranking politician to book. Some of the lurid details surrounding the swoop include the fact that one of the suspects, a former member of parliament for the right-wing Civic Democrats (ODS) was armed with a fully working machine gun.