Swiss find fortune on accounts of ex-head of Czech state fuel firm

Swiss find Kč 30 mln on bank account of ex-top Czech state security official Tomáš Kadlec, who headed state strategic fuels firm Čepro

Proč dlouholetý vysoce postavený důstojník BIS a později ředitel NBÚ nechal posílat na svůj účet ve Švýcarsku desítky milionů korun? foto: © ČTK, ČESKÁ POZICEČeská pozice

Proč dlouholetý vysoce postavený důstojník BIS a později ředitel NBÚ nechal posílat na svůj účet ve Švýcarsku desítky milionů korun?

Swiss authorities say they have found a huge sum of money on the bank account of the former head of the Czech state security office, the National Security Authority (NBÚ), who went on to become general director of the state fuels company Čepro.

The Swiss investigation discovered around Kč 30 million — which the chief prosecutor’s office in Prague regards as being the result of criminal activities — on the account of Tomáš Kadlec.

According to Czech news server aktuálně.cz, the money started flowing into the 49-year-old’s account from 2003, after Kadlec had been named to head Čepro by the Social Democrat (ČSSD) government and in particular its rising star and soon to be prime minister, Stanislav Gross.

Payments into the account were made in different amounts and currencies, according to the server, with the sender at the moment unknown. Kadlec has refused to comment.

Kadlec headed the NBÚ from 1998 after being a top official in the national domestic intelligence service, the Security Information Service (BIS). He left for the top post in Čepro, which is responsible for the Czech Republic’s strategic fuel reserves and operates one of the country’s biggest petrol station networks, EuroOil, in 2003, staying there until his dismissal in August 2005 by ČSSD prime minister Jiří Paroubek.

Police investigated Kadlec’s activites at the top of Čepro and in July 2006 he was charged with attempted fraud. Kadlec was suspected of preparing to defraud Čepro with the businessman Radovan Krejčíř, who had fled abroad to avoid prosecution on various charges. Charges were dropped in 2009 and proceedings halted.

Pumping assets

Čepro was the victim of a series of suspicious transactions during Kadlec’s period at the top of the company, with some commodities purchases much lower than the market price and others bought at costs high above the going rate.

The former Čepro boss can now expect further legal proceedings following the findings. Swiss help had been requested by the Prague prosecutor’s office. Prague 1’s district court should hold a hearing behind closed doors into what steps to take against Kadlec in the light of the latest Swiss information.

One top Czech manager who has been active for years in the petrochemicals sector told Czech Position that the worst fears about Kadlec and his time at the state-controlled fuels firm now appeared to be coming true. “It is a disgrace. Some literary works, which have been circulating in Prague and which I thought were completely dreamt up, now appear to be reality,” he said. How a top Czech intelligence operator could not come up with a more sophisticated means of hiding his millions is also a puzzle.

The fact that Kadlec had millions of crowns lying on a Swiss account had been an open secret in business circles for several months.

Why Kadlec’s cash stash has now been publicized is one question that needs to be addressed, another is how it was possible that a top official in both the BIS and NBÚ was able to dispatch millions to Swiss account is account. How a top Czech intelligence operator could not come up with a more sophisticated means of hiding his millions is also a puzzle.

Strategic decisions

The Czech state is currently trying to frame a future strategy for Čepro, which is suffering from dwindling sales at gas station pumps as different fuel options vie for market share. Company management have suggested a tie-up with one of the bigger regional refinery groups, Poland’s PKN Orlen or Hungary’s MOL.

The government is due to call for a study from consultants into the broader strategic aspects of a tie up with one of these refinery companies by the end of the year, Čepro general director Jiří Borovec  told Czech Position last week. “This is the best time to sell,” he added, referring to sliding sales from the EuroOil stations.

Radovan Krejčíř

Businessman Radovan Krejčíř, who fled the Czech Republic in 2005 when he escaped from around a dozen police officers during a search of his luxury villa on the outskirts of Prague. He later turned up on the Indian Ocean island of the Seychelles before being arrested by South African police in April 2007. He arrived in the country on a false passport and says he would not survive extradition to his homeland.

Krejčíř is being sought in the Czech Republic on charges of conspiracy to murder and has already been convicted in his absence for tax fraud. He faces a jail term of six and a half years. A South African court has set an April 2012 deadline for him to appear in court on charges of insurance fraud. Local papers in South Africa have listed a growing body count in connection with Krejčíř, saying that he has become a major underworld figure in his new home.

— Chris Johnstone contributed to this article