Police shelve great train robbery for lack of evidence

13. 2. 2009 16:20
The mysterious lost of CZK 114 million unlikely to be resolved
CZK 114 million would certainly help modernize Czech railway system
CZK 114 million would certainly help modernize Czech railway system | Foto: Tomáš Adamec, Aktuálně.cz

Prague - It may appear very unlikely but it is so: Czech authorities have stopped investigating thefts of millions of crowns in state companies.

The latest case is the lost sum of CZK 114 million, which "disappeared" about two years ago in the state-run Czech railways.

After almost a two year-long investigation it seems nobody might ever be punished for the crime, as the police shelved the case this week, saying that it was not actually an act of crime at all.

So it looks like the story of the stolen millions of crowns will be once again soon forgotten.

Employ monkeys

The case involves enforcing a claim to the debt of CZK 114 million by the former Yugoslavia. The state-owned company, the Railways Transport Routes Administration, sold part of it to the Michin company in Brno.

The company enforced the debt but contrary to the agreement it did not hand the money over to the state.

President of the Supreme Control Office František Dohnal commented on previously similar cases of lost state money and lack of efforts to find those responsible that the state may as well employ monkeys. "They would do the same jobs like the state employees", says Dohnal, when it comes down to securing the state funds.

However, the police argue they have no evidence, therefore they cannot bring anybody concrete to justice.

Not a crime

Prague state prosecutor has a similar explanation why the case of the lost railway money has been adjourned now. Apparently, they cannot prove someone had acted illegally. "We really failed to bring a charge against a specific person," said the state prosecutor Irena Válová.

Anti-corruption police did draft the charge but the prosecutors indicated to them there may not be enough evidence, according to the information available to Aktuálně.cz.

The investigation has not been entirely closed yet but finding those responsible is very unlikely at the moment. "The case will meet a similar fate like the previous cases," said one of the anti-corruption police detectives. "There is no political will here to investigate losses of state money," he added.

Mysterious vanish

The vanishing act of CZK 114 million from the State Railways bore from the very beginning all the hallmarks of a thoroughly thought through con job: it involved several fronts, the Michin company kept changing owners who, at the end, initiated its liquidation, coincidentally at the time when the State started to sue it for the stolen millions.

The instigators of the dirty trick were also helped by the railway officials who did not secure state money in a satisfactory way.

The only insurance was a money draft, signed by Michin (and its then agent, devoid of property, and a related company, also devoid of property) acknowledging the debt towards the state.

Everything is alright. Former minister of transport Aleš Řebíček
Everything is alright. Former minister of transport Aleš Řebíček | Foto: Ludvík Hradilek

Signed by a concrete person

The contract with Michin company was signed directly by the managing director of the Railways Transport Routes Administration Jan Komárek who also personally negotiated its clauses with the key character of the case, the Brno-based entrepreneur Jan Čermák.

Ironically, Jan Čermák was sentenced to five years in jail for deception in an unrelated case. Jan Komárek has not been held responsible for signing the contract.

Former transport minister Aleš Řebíček, who was sacked by PM Mirek Topolánek in January 2009, defended Komárek's steps. In his view everything was just fine.


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