Thursday, 30 March 2017

Court upholds verdict in Czech EU presidency order case

ČTK |
16 March 2017

Prague, March 15 (CTK) - Businessman Vlastimil Maxa will spend nine years in prison for money laundering and fraud in the Promopro case of an overpriced state order during the Czech Republic's EU presidency in 2009 as the appeals High Court in Prague upheld the lower-level court's verdict on Wednesday.

Maxa, executive of the main subcontractor, and former Promopro executive Jaroslav Vesely received the highest prison sentence. Other businessmen were given from a three-year suspended sentence to six years in prison.

Besides, Maxa and Vesely must cover the damage of almost 193 million crowns to the state. Maxa was also banned from participating in companies' statutory bodies for ten years, which is the maximum term.

The case concerns an overpriced state order for audiovisual services placed with the Promopro firm during the Czech EU presidency without any public tender.

According to the verdict, Vesely and Maxa submitted to the office false invoices for the services that were never carried out or were not connected with the conferences during the EU presidency.

Other defendants then helped legalise the unlawfully gained money by transferring it to other entities and then collecting it in cash.

Maxa told the appeals court that he had no contacts in politics and in the state procurement sphere and all of a sudden he had appeared in the middle of the case that all media connected with then deputy PM for European affairs Alexandr Vondra and finance minister Miroslav Kalousek.

"I feared for myself and my family and this is why I did not testify. I consider it a mistake now," Maxa said in his speech to court.

The state as the damaged party has put the damage caused by the criminal activities at 938 million crowns.

Maxa's defence counsel criticised the court on Wednesday for not having found out the exact damage level.

The court decided that the defendants would cover a part of this sum, while the Czech Republic can demand the rest in civil proceedings.

All convicted businessmen denied the charges and claimed that it was a political trial.

Three former senior officials from the EU presidency section, who were also charged in the case, were acquitted as the court did not qualify their acts as crime. They presupposed that Promopro was the only firm able to secure such an extensive order in time, the court ruled.

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