Prague high state attorney definitively shelves Gripens case

published:

updated:
14.05.2014 10:54

Prague - No one will be charged with alleged corruption in the purchase of Gripens for the Czech military because the Prague High State Attorney´s Office (VSZ) has definitively shelved the case after four years, Marek Bodlak, told CTK today.

foto

Den otevřených dveří čáslavského letiště se konal 25. května při příležitosti 95. výročí československého vojenského letectva. Na snímku jsou bojové letouny Jas-39 Gripen. ČTK Vostárek Josef

Bodlak, VSZ serious economic and financial crime deaprtment head, said no facts justifying the launch of criminal proceedings against a particular person have been found.

Anti-corruption police dealt with the case three times from 2002, but they always shelved the case.

The latest investigation was started in May 2010 based on a check by the Supreme State Attorney´s Office (NSZ).

Information about bribery in signing the contract on the Jas-39 Gripen fighters with the Czech Republic was also carried by Swedish television.

It was said Austrian businessman Alfons Mensdorff-Pouilly, who was active in the Czech Republic as an adviser to aircraft producer BAE Systems in the 1990s, could be entangled in the corruption scandal.

He allegedly tried to contact the representatives of the Czech government who were in charge of the Gripens purchase.

Originally, more bidders participated in the tender for the purchase of the fighters, but they eventually quit the competition. The British-Swedish consortium BAE-Systems offering Gripens was eventually the sole bidder.

The purchase contract, worth 60.2 billion crowns, was approved by then government of Milos Zeman (Social Democrats, CSSD) in April 2002, but parliament did not approve the proposal.

After the 2002 summer floods, the new government of Vladimir Spidla (CSSD) quit the plan to buy the aircraft because money was needed to cope with the flood aftermath.

However, Spidla´s government eventually decided to lease the Gripens in order to secure the Czech air space in July 2003.

The Czechs leased 14 aircraft from Sweden for ten years for about 20 billion crowns. The contract was signed in 2004 and the planes flew in the Czech Republic in 2005 and replaced the obsolete Russian-made MiG-21 aircraft.

The current lease expires in 2015. Earlier this year, Bohuslav Sobotka´s (CSSD) government approved an extension of the lease until 2027 with a two-year option.

Defence Minister Martin Stropnicky (ANO) has said the country will pay 1.7 billion crowns for the lease annually.

Detectives were looking into the planes´ purchase repeatedly in the past. In the first investigation, they concluded in December 2002 that a crime was committed, but no perpetrator was found.

The police opened a new investigation in February 2007, but they again shelved it at the end of 2009, saying they suspect no crime having been committed.

The corruption suspicion was also investigated in Austria, Sweden and the United States.

Written by:
www.ctk.cz

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