Absurd game for hundreds of millions
Comment
Absurd game for hundreds of millions
21. 3. 2017

Court sat today on the Karlovy Vary “polls”. The case saw light in December 2006, when Jiří who holds the NFPK Prize for Courage 2016, disclosed a video recording of the lottery on the KV Aréna contractor, made during a city council meeting. A video recording of this lottery was used to make a clip that scored high points on the internet. The polling act was extremely opaque and quite fishy. The caller grumped for the winner for a good half a minute, and the audience, including the notary, just laughed. Jiří Kotek subsequently provided the backgrounds to the police and the ÚOHS antitrust body, having filed a suit, some years later, in his post of deputy chief. His action embarrassed the contractors that built the KV Arena for more than one billion crowns. But now, after so much court haggling, the verdict was passed: City shall not get back its multimillions but it must pay 21 million crowns’ worth of legal expenses to building contractors. Karlovy Vary might appeal for a second time to the Supreme Court and the case may drag on for years.

Court sat today on the Karlovy Vary “polls”. The case saw light in December 2006, when Jiří who holds the NFPK Prize for Courage 2016, disclosed a video recording of the lottery on the KV Aréna contractor, made during a city council meeting. A video recording of this lottery was used to make a clip that scored high points on the internet. The polling act was extremely opaque and quite fishy. The caller grumped for the winner for a good half a minute, and the audience, including the notary, just laughed. Jiří Kotek subsequently provided the backgrounds to the police and the ÚOHS antitrust body, having filed a suit, some years later, in his post of deputy chief. His action embarrassed the contractors that built the KV Arena for more than one billion crowns. But now, after so much court haggling, the verdict was passed: City shall not get back its multimillions but it must pay 21 million crowns’ worth of legal expenses to building contractors. Karlovy Vary might appeal for a second time to the Supreme Court and the case may drag on for years.

Once before, the Supreme Court stepped in to abrogate the previous verdicts. The case has been pending for more than six years. But very much is in stake. Karlovy Vary is trying to save and retain as much as half a billion crowns from a suspect business case. Previously Karlovy Vary was fined 69 million crowns based on a ruling issued by the General Directorate of Finance. Subsequently the city paid a further half a million crown fine ordered by the antitrust authority.

Several key moments pertain to this particular case. One of them occurred on 20 December 2006. City fathers and contractors entered into a contract for KV Arena, although they were aware of suspicious circumstances of the contract. Decisions were made concerning more than one billion crowns of public money, certainly more than could be swallowed even by a bigger regional capital like Karlovy Vary. It is hard to conceive that the mistake was made for sheer neglect. Another key moment occurred in June 2011. Deputy Mayor Jiří Kotek filed a key suit over the ownership of KV Arena. The lawsuit caught napping not only the opposition parties that were behind the suspect contract, but also the coalition partners. As a result of this, Jiří Kotek was relieved of his duties less than two weeks afterwards.

The Karlovy Vary lottery scandal goes to show that sensitive cases never lack dramatic moments, twists and turns and one must display a sufficient amount of patience. But the mission must be completed and public money must be returned to the Karlovy Vary budget.  

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