Supreme Audit Office (NKÚ) president František Dohnal stands accused of misusing public funds by renting unjustifiably expensive apartments since taking up the post in 2005. The state prosecution claims that Dohnal has caused material damage to the state amounting to Kč 1.1 million.
If found guilty, Dohnal — who claims the case is political — could face up to five years in prison. On Monday, hearings were adjourned until Friday, when the court hopes to deliver a verdict.
According to public prosecutor Pavel Polák, following Dohnal’s appointment in 2005 the NKÚ chief rented a five-room apartment in Americká Street in Prague, which he later changed for two apartments in Chrudimská in Prague 3. The NKÚ paid almost Kč 76,000 a month for the properties. The public prosecution claims that the rent exceeded a reasonable level and thus amounted to abuse of public funds by Dohnal.
Dohnal claims that the NKÚ collegiate agreed on the respective accommodation budget before he took up the post, and that the office’s budget was consequently approved by the lower house of parliament. He says that it was the NKÚ’s financial department that actually chose the apartments and that the only criteria he specified was for a residence large enough for his five-member family.
Dohnal has reportedly rented accommodation from his salary since August 2009; he says the case against him is politically motivated to force him to resign and that the charges were made after he refused to admit members of the Social Democrats (ČSSD) and Communist Party (KSČM) to the NKÚ collegiate.
The law on the NKÚ states that if found guilty of a criminal offence the mandate of the president of the office is terminated automatically.
An NKÚ president can also be dismissed by the President of the Republic — i.e., Václav Klaus — upon the recommendation of the lower house of parliament, or by the lower house independently if the government’s penal disciplinary committee supports the motion.
All previous articles on the Supreme Audit Office (NKÚ) are available here