Finance Minister Jan Fischer has accused his predecessor Miroslav Kalousek of tolerating violations of the labour code at the ministry while in office. Minister Fischer said that an internal investigation had revealed serious malpractices in the past including violations in work ethics and attendance where favoured employees had had month-long work absences covered by non-existent business trips. Others had been subjected to mobbing at the workplace which their superiors turned a blind eye on. Mr. Fisher said he believed his predecessor could not have been unaware of what was going on.
A chemical analysis of wastewater in ten regions has detected traces of different drugs that are used in different areas of the country. Plzen showed higher levels of heroin, Prague higher levels of cocaine, Brno the party drug ecstasy and Usti nad Labem and Ostrava crystal methamphetamine. The head of the research team Lubor Hruska said he was surprised by the clear-cut distinctions. It is the first study of its kind in the Czech Republic.
The former head of the Office of the Government Lubomír Poul has refused to testify in the case of the former chief-of-staff Jana Nagyová, who is charged with abuse of office and corruption in a scandal that brought down the former centre-right government. Nagyová´s defence counsel Eduard Bruna said Lubomír Poul was badly shaken by the scandal involving his former colleague and had used his right not to give testimony. The former head of the Office of the Government was detained along with seven other people during a June raid. Unlike the others he was not charged.
The number of working pensioners in the Czech Republic is on the rise despite an increase in the retirement age, the Czech Statistics Office reported on Wednesday. While in 2010 the number of employed pensioners between 65 and 70 years of age was 129 thousand in the first half of this year it had increased to 145 thousand. The number of pensioners who continue to work past their retirement age has now reached over 11 percent.
The ice hockey star Jaromír Jágr has equalled the record for the most NHL regular season games played by a Czech. Jágr’s appearance for New Jersey Devils on Tuesday was his 1,395th NHL regular season match, putting him on equal terms with defender Roman Hamrlík. The two are now 32nd overall in terms of number of games played but are the leaders among active players. Jágr, who is 41, scored for New Jersey in their defeat to Vancouver on Tuesday, as did his compatriot Patrik Eliáš.
Charges have been filed against the Czech Republic’s biggest construction company, Metrostav, in connection with the case of former Central Bohemian governor David Rath, who is standing trial for alleged bribe-taking and manipulation of public tenders. The police have also filed fresh charges against Mr. Rath and two suspected accomplices, ex-MP Petr Kott and former hospital director Kateřina Pancová. The news site Lidovky.cz reported that Metrostav’s CEO and another senior manager were implicated in the matter. A spokesperson for the company denied any wrongdoing. Mr. Rath is a former health minister and senior Social Democrat. He and 10 others are accused of illicitly creaming off EU funds by working in cahoots with a number of companies in Central Bohemia.
Prague councillors have approved a plan to build a new “D” line on the city’s metro system. The first part of the line, from Pankrác station to a depot in Písnice, will be 10 kilometres in length. The project will cost just under CZK 25 billion, which City Hall hopes to obtain from EU funds. It is unlikely to be completed before 2022. Construction work is currently underway to extend the A line from Dejvická station to Motol; the new stretch should open next year.
Transparency International have called on the minister of labour and social affairs, František Koníček, to explain his ties to a company based in a tax haven. Mr. Koníček previously headed the state forestry agency Lesy ČR. The corruption watchdog said that while he was no longer active in the Cyprus-based Equity Brokers, his wife and daughter remained on its supervisory board; Transparency International said it owned several other firms that had won public tenders or drawn on EU funds in the Czech Republic. Mr. Koníček, who is standing for President Zeman’s party in elections later this month, said all the companies he was involved with in this country acted legally. Transparency also said that former MP Petr Benda and ODS regional leader Pavel Dlouhý had ties to offshore firms. The organisation said that such companies had won public tenders worth over CZK 150 billion in the Czech Republic in the last five years.
The Finance Ministry has broadened a criminal complaint it has taken in connection with the privatisation of the coal-mining company Mostecká uhelná společnost, it said in a statement said on Tuesday. The ministry asserts that the defendants in a case surrounding the selloff had control of the firm over a year before they said they had. That information influenced the price paid to the state for its stake and also influenced the government’s decision to sell, the ministry said. A number of former managers and owners are facing charges of insider trading and fraud over their part of the privatisation in 1999. They are alleged to have swindled the state out of CZK 1.6 billion.
Speaking on a four-day state visit to Israel, the Czech president, Miloš Zeman, thanked his counterpart Shimon Peres for using the country name Czechia rather than the Czech Republic. Mr. Zeman said he himself preferred to use Czechia as it was nicer, shorter and less cold than the Czech Republic. After the breakup of Czechoslovakia some people began using the name Czechia, which is analogous to the popular Czech-language name Česko. However, it has not really caught on.