New ÚOKFK top cop named

Police President Petr Lessy taps Tomáš Martinec to head the anti-corruption police — without holding an official selection process

Petr Bušta 1.4.2011

New ÚOKFK head Tomáš Martinec foto: © ISIFAČeská pozice

New ÚOKFK head Tomáš Martinec

Police headquarters has announced that Tomáš Martinec will be the new director of the Financial Crime and Corruption Division (ÚOKFK) of the Czech Police, replacing Libor Vrba, who stepped down in February, after agreement with Police President Petr Lessy. No official selection process was held, with the rationale given that Martinec has held the same professional rank and has extensive managerial experience.

Martinec is not unknown, having come into the public eye in 2008 when then Prague Mayor Pavel Bém (Civic Democrats, ODS) criticized the naming of Martin Červíček as Prague Police President without a selection procedure. It later emerged that Bém had offered him the post without informing the police leadership — or so Martinec claimed —  although when questioned by journalists the mayor denied having extended any such offer.

Martinec got to know Bém before he was mayor, back when he worked in the National Anti-Drug Center and Bém, a trained psychologist, led the Inter-ministerial Anti-Drug Commission. The weekly Respekt and other media have speculated that the two men came to know each other far better through entrepreneur and lobbyist Roman Janoušek, dubbed Bém’s right-hand man by the media, who had come under investigation by Swiss authorites for money laundering.

In 2008, the ÚOKFK reportedly also began investigating Janoušek’s connection to Bém and other ODS leaders and compiled their findings in a file titled “Blaník” (the existence of which police have denied). At the time, Martinec was the ÚOKFK assistant director. A year later, Martinec left the ÚOKFK over disputes with the director — Libor Vrba. From there, he became assistant director for the criminal police and investigative unit in the Vysočina region.

Martinec has a strong professional reputation. Shortly after his own appointment, Lessy began spreading the word among the elite police that Martinec would become deputy chief of the plainclothes (criminal) police. But as Czech Position contributor Jan Schneider commented, he has a reputation as a manager but not as a tough and decisive leader.

Having held many posts in the police, Martinec seemed most at home as deputy director of the Financial Police. His appointment could be a good sign: that the police will emphasize the seizure of the proceeds of crime. This is an extremely difficult and complicated process but one that is most effective in paralyzing criminals.