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Nine year sentences handed down in Promopro case

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Prague, June 24 (CTK) – A court found yesterday former Promopro executive Jaroslav Vesely and six representatives of subcontractor firms guilty in the case of an overpriced state order placed with Promopro during the Czech Republic’s EU presidency in 2009.
The court also acquitted three former senior officials from the Czech EU presidency section of charges.
The court said the state is entitled to 327.5 million crowns as compensation for the damage incurred. It may exact further 450 million in civil proceedings.
Vesely and Vlastimil Maxa, executive of the main subcontractor, received the highest sentence of nine years in prison each for fraud and money laundering.
Other businessmen were given from a three-year suspended sentence to six years in prison.
The verdict can be appealed.
Promopro was given the lucrative order for its audiovisual services 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, Vaclav Cada, Marcel Prikopa, Ivan Komarek, Roman Pekarovic and Pavel Girstl, then helped legalise the unlawfully gained money by transferring it to other entities and then collecting it in cash, the court ruled.
The court also banned all defendants, except for Cada, from participating in companies’ statutory bodies. Vesely and Maxa are banned from it for ten years, which is the maximum term.
The judge said the three former public officials, who were accused of abuse of power and manipulation of public procurement, seem to have had no motive to commit the crimes.
The officials acted rationally, they tried to do their best to organise the events linked to Prague’s EU presidency, the judge said.
“In our opinion, they only tried to ensure it in the best possible way. I must say they succeeded. As a state we did not fail,” she added.
The state as the damaged party has put the damage caused by the criminal activities at 938 million crowns.
The court said the fraud caused a damage worth 327.5 million at least. It granted this sum as a compensation to the state and said that out of it, 135 million have been seized from the suspects’ bank accounts. The rest must be paid to the state by the seven suspects in a ratio corresponding to their share of the damage caused to the state.
The Czech Republic can demand the rest, which is about 450 million crowns after the deduction of a fine for the breach of the budget discipline, in civil proceedings, the court said.
“We will wait until we receive the verdict in writing, and afterwards we will decide what to do next,” said Pavel Hortig, spokesman for the Office for Government Representation in Property Affairs.
($1=24.266 crowns)

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