Prague - The Czech High State Attorney´s Office (VSZ) today charged lobbyist Marek Dalik in the case of the purchase of Pandur armoured personnel carriers (APC) for the military and he faces up to ten years in prison for fraud, state attorney Jan Koran writes on the VSZ website today.
Dalik, a close aide to former prime minister Mirek Topolanek (Civic Democrats, ODS), allegedly asked for a bribe of some 500 million crowns during negotiations about the purchase of the APCs with the Austrian armament maker Steyr in 2007.
Dalik previously dismissed the case as a nonsense.
The Prague Municipal Court will deal with the case.
The police investigated Dalik based on the testimony by a former Steyr employee who said in March 2011 Dalik demanded 18 million euros (an equivalent of about 500 million crowns) for continued Pandurs purchase.
Dalik was detained in Prague in early October 2012. The state attorney proposed that he be taken into custody fearing that he might flee and influence witnesses, but the court did not comply with the proposal.
Dalik did not eventually get any money, but he allegedly promised aid in negotiations about the order, while in fact he did not have any real influence on it.
Anti-corruption police detectives worked on the case for almost three years within an international team with colleagues from Austria. In the judiciary field, they cooperated with the United States, Israel, Switzerland and Spain.
Topolanek´s government made a decision on the purchase of 107 APCs for 14.4 billion crowns in the spring of 2009 and the contract with Steyr was signed shortly afterwards.
Over one year later, a Czech-Austrian police team started to look into the case. In May 2011, media released the testimony of Austrian manager Stephan Szuecs, who was registered as a secret witness.
The Pandurs are another in a series of cases of allegedly dubious orders for the military, which are being solved by the Czech police and judiciary.
On Wednesday, the Prague Municipal Court acquitted former defence minister Martin Bartak and arms dealer Michal Smrz in the case of alleged bribery in the purchase of Tatra military lorries. The verdict is not yet valid.
On the contrary, the case of alleged corruption in the purchase of Jas-39 Gripen aircraft for the military has been shelved.