PRAGUE - Czech police have arrested the American boss of truckmaker Tatra on charges of bribery, a company spokesman said on Tuesday, the latest step in an anti-corruption drive which has seen several ministers and senior government officials detained.
Ronald Adams, who has run privately-owned Tatra since 2006
as chairman, was taken into custody and charged with offering a
bribe to win army contracts, Tatra spokesman Vladimir Bystrov
“Mr Adams went to the police… to testify. He was charged
and detained on the spot,” Bystrov said. “The police have
requested his detention, and a court will rule on this today.”
The company said in a statement the charges, which it said
were brought by witnesses themselves charged with bribery, were
groundless and Adams’ detention was against the law.
The case, which Czech media say involves former defence
minister Martin Bartak as a witness, is the second major
corruption scandal to erupt around army contracts in the
European Union member state this year.
Another former defence minister, Vlasta Parkanova, has been
charged with improperly handling state property in connection to
the purchase of military planes, a contract critics said was too
Parkanova has also denied the charges.
A police spokeswoman declined to confirm Adams had been
arrested, but said: “We have charged a 62-year-old man with
bribery in connection to contracts with the Czech Army.”
The U.S. embassy in Prague said only that it was monitoring
the case closely.
The army contracts scandals are just the latest to shake the
political and corporate establishment in the country of 10.5
million, damaging parties’ standing with Czech voters, though
few cases have led to convictions.
A Transparency International study last month said
prosecution in the Czech Republic was “weak” and “vulnerable to
direct political influence”.
In June, the Czech parliament lifted immunity from
prosecution for a top opposition official, David Rath, who was
arrested this year while leaving a friend’s house with 7 million
crowns stuffed in a wine box.
Newspaper Mlada Fronta Dnes reported on Tuesday that the
main witness in the Tatra case is former defence chief Bartak,
who resigned as deputy finance minister when the charges
surfaced but denies any wrongdoing.
He has been accused by Tatra officials, including former
U.S. ambassador William Cabaniss, of requesting a bribe in 2008.
Adams purchased a 92 percent stake in Tatra with three
partners in 2006. He served for a time as president of the
American Chamber of Commerce in Prague.
The company, which dates back to 1850, posted revenue of 4.3
billion crowns ($213.45 million) in 2010, according to its
Czech prosecutors are taking on more cases of official
corruption, the top complaint in voter surveys.
In May, a state attorney ordered the reopening of an
investigation into contracts with electricity company CEZ
and a supplier.
Former CEZ Chief Executive Martin Roman has been accused by
a Czech newspaper of having a conflict of interest due to
alleged ownership links to the supplier. Roman has denied the