Handles billions without having to reveal his property

Eliška Bártová
13. 6. 2008 11:00
Deputy Minister Jiří Hodač was made an exception
Jiří Hodač (in the middle) is a powerful man
Jiří Hodač (in the middle) is a powerful man | Foto: Ludvík Hradilek

Praha - Czech first Deputy Transport Minister Jiří Hodač is a powerful man. He is in charge of nine departments of Transport Ministry, including the EU Funds Department, whose task is to allocate up to 143 billion of EU money.

Although Hodač can influence the flow of money, he himself hasn't had any duty to reveal his financial situation or his past to anybody.

He did not have to report on his property situation, unlike for example headmasters of elementary schools who are forced to do so, as set by the new bill. And what's more, unlike his predecessor, Hodač managed to avoid the security screening process.

Therefore we aren't going to find out much about his past and his contacts but thanks to the new law on conflict of interest, he is obliged to reveal at least partially his property situation by the end of June.

Change of rules

Since May this year, Jiří Hodač has been the first Deputy Transport Minister. During his short working period at the Ministry, 9 departments have been transferred under his control, while the other deputy ministers are in charge of one or maximum of two departments each.

Transport Ministry - or more specifically the EU Funds Department, which is managed by Jiří Hodač - is in charge of the biggest operational program for the time period of 2007-2013. He thus controls allocation of CZK 143 billion.

At the same time, Hodač is one of the directors of the join-stock company Letiště and České dráhy (Airport and Czech Railways). Both of these giant organizations are expected to be soon privatized for some billions of CZK.

READ MORE: Security Office boss fired for information leak

Despite of holding all these high-profile posts, Hodač was not obliged to submit the security screening certificate. While his predecessor had to undergo the security screening process to gain access to classified information, Transport Minister Aleš Řebíček made an exception for Jiří Hodač.

Transport Minister Aleš Řebíček won´t say much about Hodač´s
Transport Minister Aleš Řebíček won´t say much about Hodač´s | Foto: Ludvík Hradilek

Screening process and evasive Hodač

Hodač thus avoided a several-month lasting screening process, during which the National Security Office (NBÚ) checks the financial situation, the past and trustworthiness of the person under inspection.

NBÚ also rakes about the person's activities that could make him corruptible.

Thanks to the minister's intervention Hodač for example doesn't have to prove that he didn't collaborate with the State Security during the communist regime or that he is a trustworthy and incorruptible person.

During the security screening he would also have to reveal his income over the past 15 years. In addition to it, NBÚ inspects if the financial or property situation is adequate to the declared income.

NBÚ also checks whether the person under inspection is in touch with people who could possibly jeopardize his/her trustworthiness.

"On top of that, the information about one's private life is investigated," former deputy minister Roman Vyčichla describes the screening process. Vyčichla underwent the audit for "the secret." "You also need to report every change in income and property situation."

Hodač has avoided all of that.

To be revealed in June

"Until now, deputy ministers haven't even had any duty to reveal their financial situation," says David Ondračka, the head of Transparency International. "However, that is changing now."

Before the end of June, Hodač - as well as all the other Czech deputy ministers - will have to put his cards on the table.

According to the new law on conflict of interest which took effect in January, they are obliged to inform about their property gain within the last year.

Persons listed in the law must elaborate three declarations. First, they have to inform, which extra jobs they have - e.g. which supervisory boards they sit on.

Second, they have to state all their immovable properties that they gained within the year of 2007. Plus the movable properties over CZK 0.5 million, stocks and shares over CZK 100,000 and shares in trading companies over CZK 50,000.

Third, according to the law they also have to reveal their liabilities over CZK 100, 000, which they had till the end of 2007. So for example, if they draw any mortgage loans and also who is their creditor.

The Ministry then has to make all this information available for public inspection upon request.


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