Wednesday, 23 April 2014

New anti-corruption fund awards whistle-blowers

ČTK |
24 March 2011

Prague, March 23 (CTK) - U.S. ambassador to Prague Norman Eisen yesterday supported a new Czech anti-corruption endowment fund that awarded the first two whistle-blowers for reporting suspected corruption in state administration.

The awards carry 500,000 and 100,000 crowns respectively.

The recently registered fund, established by successful businessman Karel Janecek, awarded Libor Michalek, former head of the State Environmental Fund (SFZP), who pointed to alleged corruption at the Environment Ministry, and Ondrej Zavodsky who highlighted the suspicious placing of orders in the Interior Ministry's services facility.

Eisen openly supported the new fund's effort in Prague yesterday.

He said he believed that every man has the right to live in a country without corruption.

He stressed that a system of support for whistle-blowers who highlight corruption must be created.

He also said he is glad to be in Prague at the time when civic society started standing up against corruption.

Eisen recommended that Czech politicians use this possibility and push through safeguards for the system to remain honest.

Corruption threatens economic cooperation since it discourages foreign investors and lowers labour productivity, he added.

"Our idea was to support people who dare to do something against corruption," Janecek told reporters.

He established the fund along with brewery owner Stanislav Bernard, actor Jan Kraus, economist Tomas Sedlacek and former intelligence service chief Karel Randak.

Sedlacek pointed out that the National Economic Council whose member he is considers corruption the worst disincentive to Czech economy growth.

Kraus said the problem should not be reduced to money only since corruption deprives people of freedom.

Bernard pointed out that the fund would not accept sponsor's gifts from political parties and would cooperate with politicians only if they were really interested in the issue.

Along with direct support for whistle-blowers the new fund wants to seek the abolition of bearer shares and other legislative changes, support projects uncovering corruption and help reveal corruption with a significant economic effect on public administration and "build ethical values in a democratic society," according to the fund's press release.

The only politician invited to the press conference yesterday was Senate deputy head Petr Pithart. In the 1990s he pointed out that a then influential banker had attempted to bribe him.

The fund faced problems with registration since a court first did not recognise the fight against corruption as a public beneficial activity.

($1=17.200 crowns)

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