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One ends in custody in EU money misuse case

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Usti nad Labem, North Bohemia, Dec 15 (CTK) – An Usti court has ordered to take businessman Daniel Jezek into custody as the only of the 24 people, including politicians, who were recently detained on suspicion of misuse of EU subsidies within a regional operational programme, judge Martin Majchrak told CTK on Thursday.

Apart from Jezek, the other suspects have been released.

Jezek, a former influential member of the Civic Democratic Party (ODS), has been taken into custody because he could influence witnesses otherwise, Majchrak said.

The police say the suspects misused the EU subsidies distributed within the Northwest Regional Operational Programme (ROP) in the Usti and Karlovy Vary regions.

The supervising state attorney said on Tuesday that the accused are suspected of several crimes including harming the financial interests of the EU for the benefit of an organised criminal group.

The politicians among the suspects include former Usti Region governor Jana Vanhova (Social Democrats, CSSD) and her deputy Pavel Kouda (formerly CSSD), CSSD Karlovy Vary regional branch head and Cheb mayor Petr Navratil, former CSSD Usti regional branch Arno Fisera, former ODS senator Alexandr Novak, Industry and Trade Ministry’s sectional head Vladimir Bartl (ODS) and three former Karlovy Vary deputy regional governors, Jakub Panik, Miloslav Cermak and Petr Horky (all CSSD).

The suspects also include former ROP Northwest Office directors Jiri Cervinka and Petr Vrablik, former head of the Northwest Regional Council Tomas Hybner, and other officials and regional businessmen.

According to Czech Television, the police failed to detain Novak, who is staying abroad.

Majchrak described the suspected crime as a vast and sophisticated criminal activity that has caused very high damage.

Petr Kusnierz, former ROP Northwest director linked to the ODS, who was convicted of corruption and abuse of power before, told the police that it was Jezek who decided on the granting of subsidies to applicants.

After a recent extensive raid, the police accused 24 suspects of harming the EU interests and of other crimes in connection with EU subsidies going to the Czech Northwest cohesion region.

The list of the accused, which CTK has at its disposal, shows that most of them are either experts who assessed the projects applying for a subsidy and made recommendations for the ROP Northwest Council to decide on, or the politicians who made the decisions.

The Council was comprised of politicians from the Usti and Karlovy Vary Regions.

The ROP Northwest has been accompanied by problems since 2010. Several officials and politicians, including Kusnierz and Kouda, have been convicted, and other proceedings still continue. The cases helped unveil further persons and circumstances involved in the massive misuse of subsidies.

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