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This spring, Hana Suková celebrated her 73rd birthday in custody: the Prague lawyer has been prosecuted by the police for over a year in a case involving extremely large damages and mysterious circumstances.
According to the detectives, the lawyer embezzled 153 million, which people entrusted to her in the so-called lawyer’s escrow during real estate deals. Hana Suková was arrested last September, but even after a year-long investigation, it is not known for sure where the money went.
List News has now tracked down an important new line that takes the beginning of the case back to 2017.
At that time, the Financial Analysis Office, which captures and maps suspicious bank transactions, strongly warned that attorney Suková was carrying out machinations with safekeeping. That he even withdraws money from escrow accounts in cash.
And the Financial Analytical Office supported its claim with a list of specific transactions, with account numbers and with references to relevant contracts.
“Proceedings of JUDr. It is alarming that Hany Suková freely disposes of other people’s entrusted financial resources,” analysts said six years ago in official documents obtained by Nauzal.
How attorney escrow works
An attorney’s escrow is the keeping of money in a neutral, safe “territory” until an agreed deal is completed. Most often in sales and purchases of real estate. The buyer transfers the money to a special account set up by the lawyer. They will remain there until the cadastre registers a new owner. And then the lawyer instructs the money to go from the account to the seller. The same thing happens, for example, with the sale of companies, where tens or hundreds of millions are already at stake. The lawyer must not touch the money in escrow, otherwise it is embezzlement. The Czech Bar Association claims that it mercilessly punishes such cases with expulsion.
At that time, the police and the Czech Bar Association, which supervises the activities of lawyers, received information about the lawyer’s practices. Despite this, Hana Suková continued to provide legal services in real estate deals without any problems in the following years – now 44 clients were robbed. They don’t even have their houses, flats or plots of land, nor the millions they handed over to the lawyer for safekeeping.
“If someone had prevented the activities of this lawyer then, this huge embezzlement would not have happened,” states Hana Kordová Marvanová, a lawyer and senator (elected for KDU+ODS+TOP 09), who was contacted by one of the defrauded clients.
The plane landed hard
During an investigation of more than a year, criminal investigators secured evidence to claim that the lawyer Suková and her daughter and at the same time paralegal Pavla Marešová piloted a fraudulent plane.
Their law firm was dedicated exclusively to work for established real estate companies. So tens of millions flowed through their 45 bank accounts every month.
But according to the police, the lawyer collected part of the clients’ money in cash. And when the escrow payment was approaching, she deposited the money into the account again. But not as much as she picked.
So the accounts were in the red and the amounts would not be enough to pay the clients when the new owner of the property was registered in the cadastre. Therefore, Hana Suková “sprinkled” the missing money from the newly received escrows in other real estate deals.
“Contrary to their entrustment, the funds were transferred immediately after their deposit by the client to the assigned bank account, or at the most a few days after that moment, transferred in one lump sum or in several payments to various other bank accounts of attorneys’ trusts, and in part, cash withdrawals of these funds were also carried out ,” in September 2022, the investigators summarized the law firm’s practice in a resolution on the initiation of criminal prosecution, which Nauzal had the opportunity to read.
According to police calculations, for example, Hana Suková managed to withdraw 45 million from the accounts from January to September 2021, but returned only 16 million to them.
This “plane” then landed hard last summer, when real estate sales almost stopped after the economic shock due to the war in Ukraine. As described by the police in the aforementioned text of the indictment, the lawyer Suková had nothing to settle the luxurious bills with, and the nervous sellers began to bombard her with urgent calls as to why she had not yet sent them their millions. And finally they filed a criminal complaint.
Neither Hana Suková nor her daughter Pavla Marešová, who face up to 10 years in prison if convicted, have not commented on the case since the beginning. It was not possible to obtain their statements even now that Nauzal has discovered new circumstances regarding the case and when both women are being investigated at large.
FAÚ warned. And nothing
According to the police investigation, lawyer Suková embezzled clients’ money at least since 2021. However, official documents obtained by the editorial office show that the Financial Analysis Office expressed this suspicion four years earlier.
He already requested at the end of 2017 that the Czech Bar Association provide him with documents and other documentation related to the custody of Hana Sukova.
In April 2018, the FAÚ informs the police that Hana Suková is behaving against the internal regulations of the Czech Bar Association: a lawyer must never touch client money in custody. And if the chamber discovers something like that, it will disqualify the lawyer and he may no longer provide legal services.
FAÚ analysts also point out that attorney Suková handled the entrusted money in this way “for a long time, repeatedly and in large volumes”. According to the FAÚ, there were so many transfers that it chose only four examples to report to the police. On them he described how the system worked.
According to FAÚ, for example, on January 31, 2017, Hana Suková received 4,080,000 crowns from a couple who were buying an apartment. She immediately transferred three million on February 2, and then one million on February 13, to escrow accounts of completely different real estate transactions. And again at the end of March, she returned the missing 4,080,000 crowns from another escrow account to the original account – because the payment deadline was approaching.
At the time, analysts warned about what could happen.
“In the case of JUDr. “There is a considerable risk to Hana Sukova from a possible violation of obligations in the management of someone else’s property, or possibly from the commission of a criminal offense of embezzlement, especially in a situation where a larger number of contractual obligations will be repaid at this entity,” they wrote.
So they described exactly what Hana Suková and her daughter Pavla Marešová are accused of today.
As other documents from the investigation also show, the detectives dismissed the FAÚ’s initiative in 2019, saying that the crime did not happen. Hana Suková always paid the deposits, so no one was harmed.
“Nevertheless, the investigator came to the conclusion that the lawyer’s actions were in violation of the relevant status regulations,” confirmed Prague police spokesman Jan Daněk. So the investigator at least alerted the Czech Bar Association.
She made two inspections in Hana Suková’s office – after the FAÚ’s first notification in December 2017 and then in 2019, when the police postponed the FAÚ’s initiative. As can be seen from the communication between the Czech Bar Association and the police (they also have the Nauzal at their disposal), the inspection did not reveal any errors in the activities of lawyer Suková.
From suspicion to prosecution for embezzlement
|December 7, 2017||The FAÚ is asking the Czech Bar Association for documentation on the custody of attorney Hana Suková.|
|January 18, 2018||The Czech Bar Association informs the FAÚ that the inspection did not find “any serious deficiencies”.|
|April 11, 2018||The FAÚ informs the police that attorney Suková is handling the deposits suspiciously and against the rules of the Czech Bar Association.|
|April 23, 2019||The police forwards the case to the Czech Bar Association and its control bodies.|
|April 18, 2019||The initiative is sent to the Control Board of the Czech Bar Association for resolution.|
|August 5, 2019||The Czech Bar Association informs the police that the suspicion has not been confirmed.|
|September 14, 2022||The police initiate criminal prosecution of Hana Suková for embezzlement.|
What was the inspection like?
However, it remains unexplained how thorough the Bar Association’s vetting of the suspect office was.
If the inspectors were satisfied only with the fact that attorney Suková has everything “on paper” in order on the outside, or if they also went through the movements on the escrow account statements. Just like FAÚ did. It would be immediately clear from the statements that the money went elsewhere in violation of the rules.
In one of the letters to the police, who were later interested in the results of the inspection, the Czech Bar Association wrote that the suspicion was not confirmed. The letter recapitulates that Hana Suková rejected the money manipulation during the inspection. It does not say anything about checking accounts.
“From the results of the investigation, it is submitted that you have not substantiated your claims about the transfer of stored funds to other custodial accounts of this lawyer, where they are used for completely different purposes, (…),” concluded Jan Mikš, chairman of the Control Council of the Czech Bar Association, in his response to the investigating police officer chambers.
In another letter from last October, i.e. already after the accusation of Hana Suková and Pavla Marešová, the chamber wrote that in the past “it did not find JUDr. Gross deficiencies in the fulfillment of obligations in connection with the execution of safekeeping of funds”.
Again, he does not write anything specific about whether the auditors also went after the accounts. There is only a mention here that Hana Suková properly recorded the deposits in the electronic records.
Bar Association spokeswoman Iva Chaloupková said that members of the inspection board can only rely on documents, including bank statements, provided by the inspected attorney. “They do not have the possibility or authority as law enforcement authorities to demand documents from the bank, including account statements,” spokeswoman Chaloupková said.
However, she did not answer repeated questions about whether the auditors were also interested in movements on the escrow accounts in Hana Suková’s office in 2017 and 2019 and whether they dealt with them in depth.
Lawyer Marvanová Kordová also wants to know how the inspection took place. “Surely it should be explained,” she declared.
The mysterious “Mr. Inventor”
In addition to the fact that last September the investigators charged Hana Suková and Pavla Marešová, they are simultaneously searching for the fate of 153 million lost by clients. “For the time being, the police authority has not been able to find out how the collected cash was handled,” the investigators acknowledged in the resolution to initiate criminal prosecution.
If the money does not appear, the chance of defrauded people for compensation is minimal: Hana Suková lived and worked in rented premises, otherwise she has no assets. Her daughter Pavla Marešová’s cottage in the Giant Mountains and two caravans were seized by the police.
According to the text of the resolution on the initiation of criminal prosecution, Hana Suková admitted to embezzlement during interrogation by detectives. Also, that she withdrew cash from escrow accounts and used it for her own use or to pay off unspecified loans.
Hana Suková also said in the protocol that before the fall of the “plane” she expected a large influx of money, which would erase the hole in the accounts. Her finances were supposed to come from a patent for a kind of device for easy energy production, which was created by an unspecified inventor from Hradec Králové.
“This product was supposed to generate electricity for free. The first impulse from the generator would set the device in motion, and it would then work on its own via the electromagnet,” Suková described to the police.
The minutes of the interrogation also show a slight irony on the part of the investigators, who call this man “Mr. Inventor” in the next passage of the protocol.
At the same time, Suková stated that she did not give the inventor millions belonging to clients – she said she only provided him with 30,000 and free legal services.