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.
Karel Randák, former head of the Czech foreign intelligence service, the Office for Foreign Relations and Information (ÚZSI), and now member of the board of the National Anti-Corruption Endowment (NFPK), says he is ready to accept that any politician may be involved in corrupt practices, including Czech President Václav Klaus.
Prague’s mayor has named a Czech-American businessman Vladimír Lich as de facto director general of DPP — the Czech capital’s scandal-ridden public transport firm — for a two-year term. Under Lich’s leadership as “crisis manager,” all cases of alleged dodgy deals are to investigated in tandem with a broader review of how DPP has allocated public funds and contracted. Lich worked in global consultancy A.T. Kearney’s Czech office from 1989 until last year.
Czech Position recently cited an interview in which Karel Janeček, owner of RSJ algorithmic trading and co-founder of the Endowment Fund Against Corruption (NFPK), alleged that a reward of Kč 50 million has been put up for anyone who manages to thoroughly discredit him; he further implied that law firm Šachta & Partners was behind the move. The firm refutes the claim and says it has reported Janeček to the police.
Cokeville Assets Inc. — the offshore firm that made tens of millions for having brokered a contract between the Prague transport company (DPP) and a domestic printer to produce metro, tram and bus tickets, in an alleged “kickback” scheme — also earned a sizable commission for advising on the sale of Czech engineering giant Škoda Plzeň’s power equipment unit, Mladá fronta Dnes (MfD) reports.
Czech billionaire Karel Janeček, founder of the Endowment Fund Against Corruption (NFPK), says there are unconfirmed reports the Prague criminal underworld has put a Kč 50 million bounty on his head. His anti-corruption group has recently exposed prominent cases of alleged corruption and cronyism involving the city-owned transport company DPP, and filed a criminal complaint against a Prague councilor for embezzling donations.
Czech media continue to untangle the web of links between opaque offshore companies, the law firms that represent them, and the individuals benefiting from contracts agreed by Prague transport company (DPP) former CEO Martin Dvořák — possibly including his mother (a police probe is underway). Czech Position has uncovered yet another, involving a security firm whose clients included DPP and TV Prima, which Dvořák once headed.
The business daily Hospodářské noviny (HN) has published fresh evidence of indirect and direct links between a company that lent €1.6 million to the mother of Martin Dvořák, the former CEO of the Prague public transport company DPP pushed to resign over suspect contracts, and companies that benefitted from contracts that the city-owned entity granted during Dvořák’s tenure.
Martin Dvořák’s last official act before being resigning as CEO of Prague public transport company DPP was to cancel a disadvantageous contract with the paper mill Neograph to produce metro, tram and bus tickets. Czech anti-corruption police are now looking into his family’s finances, after his mother bought a Kč 25 million villa via a lawyer with Šachta & Partners, the firm representing “Prague godfather” Ivo Rittig, a lobbyist who had a lucrative consulting contract on the suspect DPP–Neograph deal.
The Prague transport company (DPP) signed a disadvantageous contract for the production of fare tickets, whereby part of the money is sent to an anonymous firm located in the Virgin Islands, public broadcaster ČT reports. Transparency International says it is a form of kickback to DPP itself. Prague mayor Bohuslav Svoboda said the agreement is unacceptable for a municipal enterprise.