Czech politics is abuzz over a grand mystery. Who leaked the conversations of ex-Prague mayor Pavel Bém (ODS) and ‘godfather’ lobbyist Roman Janoušek to the media? Czech Position examines the clues and motives. From dozens of meetings with politicians, the security community, senior government officials and businessmen, five names and constructions take shape.
Agriculture Minister Petr Bendl and Environment Minister Tomáš Chalupa were in close contact with Roman Janoušek, dubbed the ‘gray eminence’ of the Prague chapter of the Civic Democrats (ODS), when they were, respectively, Central Bohemia governor and Prague 6 mayor, the server DenikInsider.cz reports. The revelation widens the scope of suspected cronyism within the center-right party.
Frustrated with the state of corruption in Czech politics, Andrej Babiš, one of the country’s richest entrepreneurs, last year founded the political movement ANO 2011, which plans to register as a party and put forward candidates in upcoming elections. In an exclusive interview with Czech Position, he speaks about cronyism in Prague City Hall under former mayor Pavel Bém (ODS) and the influence of lobbyists like Roman Janoušek and “mafias” on the political landscape.
According to Czech Position’s information, the daily Mladá fronta dnes is in possession of a total of 40 minutes of recordings of conversations between ex-Prague mayor Pavel Bém and lobbyist Roman Janoušek and politicians from the Civic Democrats (ODS). But while what has been published is only a fraction of the content — and the public cannot expect to hear more — that is not the fundamental concern.
This week the Czech public learned that Jana Nagyová, head of cabinet to PM Petr Nečas, took home a staggering Kč 273,000 worth of bonuses in the month of March alone. The information was highly unlikely to have been leaked as part of a larger pious effort to make public officials’ salaries and bonuses transparent, as the Supreme Administrative Court has ruled they must: it was a dirty trick, used for political or commercial gain (or both).
The Czech Police Presidium on Wednesday proudly announced that the anti-corruption unit has significantly increased the number of charges pressed in 2011. The day before, however, the High State Prosecutor’s Office in Olomouc announced that an investigation had failed to uncover the source of the leak to the press of the name of a key witness in the so-called Pandur investigation.
State prosecutor says the trial of Ex-Social Democrat (ČSSD) MP Petr Wolf and his wife, Hana, has shown beyond doubt that he is guilty of embezzling Kč 11 million of grant money from the Ministry of Environment and has demanded a prison sentence of five to seven years. If found guilty, Wolf will be the first Czech MP to be imprisoned for corruption.
A week after Czech PM Petr Nečas was derided for claiming his government has done more to fight corruption in its 18 months in power than was done in the previous 10 years, the tabloid Blesk on Thursday launched an online petition calling upon the police and judiciary services to thoroughly investigate corruption scandals — and published a list of “top 20” most-corrupt politicans and businessmen.
Martin Barták, widely presumed to have been charged by anti-corruption police for attempted fraud and bribery in the military’s Kč 2.6 billion order for Tatra all-terrain trucks in 2006, says the charges against him are flawed, trumped up and politicized — and key witnesses like ex-US Amb. William J Cabaniss can’t even recall basic details of the alleged bribery attempt.
The High State Prosecutor in Prague, Stanislav Mečl, called on Monday evening for his deputy Libor Grygárek to resign following reports linking him to controversial Prague lobbyist Roman Janoušek, widely known as a “godfather” and the “grey eminence” of the center-right Civic Democrats (ODS) for his close connections and influence over the party. Grygárek is refusing to go quietly.