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Elite police corps to deal with case of false spokeswoman

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Brno, Sept 6 (CTK) – The Czech National Centre Against Organised Crime (NCOZ) will deal with the relations between the South Moravia regional office headed by Michal Hasek (Social Democrats, CSSD) and firms connected with lobbyist Jana Mrencova, Brno state attorney Jan Petrasek told CTK on Tuesday.

According to media, Petrasek filed a complaint to deal with the suspicion some time ago. Lawyer Petr Nemec lodged a similar complaint in the so-called case of the false spokeswoman, too.

It is suspected that the regional office paid Mrencova’s firms, although they did not do any work, or that the firms were paid for work that should have been done by the office’s press department. This might have been done deliberately or due to neglect.

Denisa Kapitancikova, the regional office’s former spokeswoman, said she sent press releases and photos made by employees of the regional office to Mrencova and that Mrencova sent them back and was paid for them.

The South Moravia Region in the past paid for services to two firms related to Mrencova, the Marketingove centrum Profil and the Producentske centrum Profil. These contracts, worth 3.75 million crowns, are being checked these days.

Daily Mlada fronta Dnes (MfD) recently wrote that media received information about the programme of South Moravian Region’s Governor Hasek from an e-mail box of Lucie Proutnikova, although no person with this name existed. Proutnikova was only a fake name that Mrencova used to remain hidden, MfD wrote.

MfD is part of the Agrofert holding owned by Finance Minister Andrej Babis, the leader of ANO movement.

Hasek said previously he did not know who Proutnikova was and even whether she existed or not. He said the contracts with the media agency were good and they were only challenged by the ANO movement, CSSD’s political rival.

Other parties called on Hasek to resign as governor as well, but the CSSD South Moravian branch supported him. Hasek will be defending his post in the regional elections scheduled for October 7-8.

Hasek has been the most popular regional governor since 2015, however, he is connected with some controversial cases, including a failed attempt to remove Bohuslav Sobotka as CSSD leader and future prime minister in late 2013.

Earlier this year, Mrencova received a suspended sentence for asking for a bribe from a politician in exchange for influencing journalists in Marianske Lazne, west Bohemia. The verdict has not taken effect as yet.

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