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Lawmakers for tax evasion plan to become crime again

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Prague, March 23 (CTK) – The preparation for tax evasion should become a crime in the Czech Republic again after seven years, according to a draft amendment to the Penal Code which the Czech Chamber of Deputies approved on Wednesday.

The government-sponsored bill still needs approval from the Senate and President Milos Zeman.

It also raises people’s motivation to report corruption and modifies the rules for the prosecution of deputies, senators and constitutional judges.

The preparation of tax evasion was a crime until 2009.

Now the provision is being reintroduced, also as a step to crack down on the fraudulent “carousel” deals resulting in tax evasion.

Up to 10-year prison sentence will be imposed for the law’s violation.

The right-wing opposition deputies warn against the thin dividing line between usual tax optimisation and the preparation of tax evasion.

The Chamber modified the bill’s original handling of the preparation of tax evasion in connection with an organised group of perpetrators operating in different countries.

To be punishable, the estimated damage would exceed 500,000 crowns instead of the 50,000 proposed by the government.

The bill also reintroduces the institution of effective repentance, which should motivate whistleblowers to report corruption.

At present, punishment threatens both sides of corruption, which therefore are not interested in reporting it.

The bill says the police may shelve the prosecution of a person who had promised a bribe to someone because they were asked for it, and who reported the bribery immediately without an unnecessary delay.

Furthermore, the bill deals with the criminal prosecution of lawmakers after their mandate expired and they lost parliamentary immunity.

At present, the police have to ask the respective house of parliament to hand a lawmaker over for prosecution. If the house refuses to do so, such lawmakers can start to be prosecuted only after their mandate expired.

The bill enables the police to gather important evidence and “keep” it until the launch of the prosecution.

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