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Koval gets suspended sentence for corruption

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Prague, Aug 27 (CTK) – A Czech court fond Thursday Vladislav Koval, former head of a section at the Regional Development Ministry and former member of ANO, guilty of corruption, imposed a three-year suspended sentence and a 30,000-crown fine on him and banned him from high civil service posts for five years.

The verdict has not taken effect yet. Both the state attorney and Koval said they would consider whether to appeal it.

Koval pleads not guilty. He says it was him who wanted to uncover corruption, and therefore tried to ask a bribe from a representative of a company that supplied maintenance works for the ministry.

“The suspect’s defence is so strange that the court did not have any doubts about his having asked a bribe and wanting to get it,” said judge Vlasta Langhamerova.

The state attorney said Koval, in his capacity as the head of the ministry’s section of maintenance services, met Jaroslav Tuma, executive of the Protum Servis company, in a Prague restaurant on October 22, 2014, and asked an unspecified sum from him as a bribe.

Two days later, Koval offered a ministry’s order worth half a million crowns to Tuma’s company if a part of the sum goes to himself.

Koval, former manager of the ANO movement and former member of the city assembly of the north Moravian capital Ostrava, who was expelled from ANO after the scandal broke out, has repeatedly labelled his behaviour “a bad managerial decision,” “an unfortunate idea” and a “provocation.”

He said when checking the contracts signed by the ministry, he started to suspect the Protum Servis company of asking money for certain services that it never provided.

“I was accustomed from [my previous work in] the private sector to check the suspicion personally first, and only afterwards to take further steps,” he explained to the court.

The judge, nevertheless, said Koval must have known the ministry’s anti-corruption guidelines that bound him to report any suspected risk to the minister.

“It is also strange that he did not talk about his suspicion about the [false] invoices with any of his colleagues. The guidelines bound him to report his suspicions in writing, which he did not do,” the judge said.

The suspended sentence for Koval is relatively mild, because Koval was never convicted before. The toughest sentence for corruption could have been ten years in prison. The state attorney proposed the sentence of 3.5 or four years in jail.

The court, nevertheless, set the longest possible probation period for him, five years.

If Koval failed to pay the fine, he would go to prison for two months.

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