Wednesday, October 19, 2011 : Finance Minister investigated for accepting alleged bribe from online gambling firm
The Czech authorities have reportedly initiated a criminal investigation into the award of online betting licences by Finance Minister Miroslev Kalousek to online betting companies in 2008, alleging that bribery and an abuse of power may have been involved.
According to the Czech Situation.com, the police anti-corruption unit is investigating allegations that Penta Investment group co-founder Marek Dospiva donated Kč 11 million (approx. $ 613 000) through an alleged middleman, Dušan Novotný, to the Finance Minister's political party TOP 09, primarily to secure a Czech online betting licence for its subsidiary Fortuna.
In all, five internet gambling licences were ultimately awarded to Czech firms Fortuna, Sazka, Synot Tip, Tipsport and Chance.
“It’s simply an absurd fabrication, the only aim of which could be to give me a bad name in the media, if possible, before the TOP 09 annual party conference. There’s not a grain of truth in it,” Kalousek told the Czech publication Právo. “A range of companies received permission, and I can completely rule out that there was any sort of corrupt motive behind the decision or that I received any kind of backhand payment for it,” he said, adding "some sort of police provocation is probably behind the investigation."
The investigation was launched after lawyer and MP Tomáš Jarolím lodged a criminal complaint earlier this year.