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The Anticorruption Endowment (NFPK) today Marked International Anti-Corruption Day by awarding its fifth annual Prize for Courage to people who were not afraid to expose corruption regardless of the personal consequences their determination might invite. Jana Průšková and Lukáš Wagenknecht are the awardees this year. They share the CZK 150,000 premium attached to their awards.
The story of Jana Průšková is not one of million-crown frauds exposed, but like in other similar cases highlighted by the Anticorruption Endowment, it is principle that matters here. We are talking about the laying bare of manipulated, dubious way of economic management, pursued in this case by a not-for-profit organization whose main mission is to promote the artistic growth of children from the Severáček choir in the Liberec area. The fact that money-siphoning within the Friends of Severáček circle (KPS) was a premeditated scheme designed to make certain members of management profit from children in this ensemble is very sad and grossly despicable at once. The authorized quarters never reacted to warnings that the KPS acts illegally, and this is a warning supported by an example of how far clientelism and twisted moral standards can go.
Lukáš Wagenknecht, the other laureate of this year’s NFPK Prize for Courage, receives his award in recognition of taking an uncompromising stance for many years in his capacity as auditor in organizations including the DPP Prague Transport Company and the Czech Ministry of Finance. He was Director of Internal Audit at the DPP. In 2013 he ascertained wasteful disposal of public assets concerning the completion of Prague Metro’s Line A. In his capacity of Deputy Finance Minister he supervised hundreds of audits of EU funds. The most serious findings in the framework of these audits targeted the EU fund-monitoring system operated by the Ministry for Regional Development, exposing collusion between two bidders for one and the same contract. Nor should be his role ignored in auditing the economic management of Krajská Zdravotní hospitals and in the Regional Operational Programme Northwest, where he indicated discrepancies in the order of billions of crowns. In his last public appearance, Lukáš Wagenknecht blew the whistle on irregularities in the dubious contracts between the ČEZ Company and Radmila Kleslová. Lukáš Wagenknecht faced threats and intimidation in all cases. But he would not be scared and he insisted on his standards.
“The stories of Jana Průšková and Lukáš Wagenknecht significantly differ in many ways. But both stories are linked together by courage and the preparedness to bear consequences. This has never been, and unfortunately will never be a standard behavioural pattern,” NFPK Director Petr Soukenka notes on this year’s Prize for Courage awards ceremony.
The Anticorruption Endowment has pursued the Prize for Courage idea on a regular basis ever since it was established in 2011. Details about the awardees can be found on http://www.nfpk.cz/en/whistleblowers.