There have already been several resignations from the authorities of the Olomouc Region in connection with the corruption case, which concerns the influencing of public contracts for transport constructions. Police say the main organizer of the group had connections to high-ranking members of the ODS, even to representatives of the current government. What picture of corruption did the detectives describe?
What you will also hear in today’s episode at 5:59
- How members of the alleged bribery group communicated with each other, according to police intercepts.
- That last week’s raid came after several years of investigation by criminal investigators.
- And what do we know about the reasons why police documents talk about the ties of some members of the group to government politicians.
Bribery, fraud and bribery. The police also suspect a group from Olomouc of this, which, according to them, planned to “earn” 46 million crowns from bribes.
Because of this, elite criminal investigators from the National Headquarters against Organized Crime intervened in several places in the Olomouc Region last week. Then they accused 13 people, one of them – businessman, lobbyist and now former member of the ODS regional council Robert Knobloch – was sent to custody by the court. The public prosecutor was worried that he might run away. But on Monday, Knobloch posted a million-dollar bond, and it looks like he could be released from custody.
However, according to investigative reporter Seznam Zpráv, they are on the list of accused Radka Nohla and other influential figures of the Olomouc region. These include, for example, deputy governor Michal Zácha, who in addition to this position also resigned from the post of regional head of the ODS, or former directors of the regional road administration Petr Foltýnek and David Štěpánek. The group was to be managed by the already mentioned Knobloch and also former representative of the construction company Porr Roman Láčík. However, the company states that it only acts as an “injured person” in the case.
“According to the interceptions, the members of the group called Knobloch by the nickname ‘Garlic’, and they spoke of Roman Láčík as ‘Blond’. And according to these recordings, it is also confirmed that the relationship between Zácha and Knobloch was very friendly,” adds Nohl.
How did it begin
According to the reporter, detectives became interested in the group’s suspicious activities more than three years ago, in August 2020. They suspected that three employees of the Porr company at the time were influencing employees of the Directorate of Roads and Highways in exchange for invitations to luxury stays. But that did not end with the accusations.
However, the same trio was pointed to by the police investigation, which was launched after Nauzal published the diary of the former head of the ANO parliamentary club Jaroslav Faltýnek in April 2021, and the management of the Olomouc Region filed a criminal complaint based on the new information. This time, however, criminal investigators suspected the man of influencing part of the regional leadership and also the Road Administration of the Olomouc Region. And it was this investigation that resulted in the raid last week.
According to Nohl, the case, which is nicknamed the “Olomouk Dosimeter” in the media, will probably shake up the situation in the Olomouc region. “Now it will only be a question of what the police will be able to find out next,” he says.
Contacts to members of the government?
The investigative reporter notes in the 5:59 podcast that there are still questions surrounding the case. “The accusation also mentions, for example, that a regional businessman (Robert Knobloch) has ties to current members of Prime Minister Petr Fiala’s government,” he points out. It even states that the ties are “very close”. However, the police document does not mention specific names.
He has built up very close ties to high-ranking people, both businessmen and politicians, including members of the current government.
The government representatives themselves, through the mouth of the spokesman of the cabinet, Václav Smolka, reject the connection with the lobbyist and, until recently, a high-ranking member of the regional ODS: “Such information is not based on the truth. We are not aware that anyone from the government maintains any relationship with Mr. Knobloch.”
However, it is possible to trace Knobloch’s involvement in the company he co-owns with South Bohemian Governor Martin Kuba (ODS). But he told Nauzal that he practically does not see Knobloch. And Governor Kuba denies that the fresh case would concern him in any way.
However, the police documents are more revealing in the case of Deputy Zácha, who until last week led the ODS Regional Council. According to wiretaps, Knobloch should have been told that he had to “thank” Transport Minister Martin Kupek and Prime Minister Petar Fial (both ODS) for a seat on the supervisory board of DPOV, a subsidiary of Czech Railways. But both government officials again deny that they were in contact with Zácha.
In the 5:59 podcast, you will also find out what else the police say was heard in the wiretaps or how the Olomouc branch of the Directorate of Roads and Highways figures in the case. Listen in the player at the beginning of the article.
Editor a koeditor: Matěj Válek, Dominika Kubištová
Sound design and music: Martin Hůla
Sources of audio samples: archive of Seznam Zpráv reporter Radek Nohl, ČT24, CNN Prima NEWS, Český rozhlas Plus, Český rozhlas Olomouc
The news podcast of Lenka Kabrhelova’s team. One essential topic every weekday in minute six. The most important events in the Czech Republic, in the world, politics, economy, sport and culture through the lens of Seznam Zpráv.
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