Former Czech PM and wife face charges in bribery case

Former Czech PM and wife face charges in bribery case
Petr Necas says giving posts to the three rebel lawmakers was a standard political deal.
By bne IntelliNews July 19, 2016

The Czech state attorney has filed charges against former Czech prime minister Petr Necas and his wife Jana Nacasova over allegations of bribery, local media reported on July 19. The case was the final straw that brought down Necas' deeply unpopular government in summer 2013, and the rightwing Civic Democrats party has still not recovered in the opinion polls.

Necas and his wife, formerly Jana Nagyova, are accused of bribing three of the lawmakers of his ODS party by offering them lucrative posts in state-run companies in exchange for dropping a rebellion against his government back in 2012. Nagyova was head of Necas’ office at the time. He married her soon after he left office. It was speculated that the nuptials might be motivated by Czech laws limiting testimony against a marriage partner.

The three ODS lawmakers have not been charged, Radio Praha reports. Necasova also face charges of not paying tax on gifts, such as jewellery and expensive handbags, valued at CZK10mn (€370,000).

Necas, who has become the highest ranked official to be charged with bribery, denies any wrongdoing, calling the deal with the three lawmakers a standard political deal.

The filing of charges comes a month after Necasova was acquitted in another case on charges of abuse of power for illegally ordering the military intelligence service to spy on Necas’ then-wife Radka.

With the population and analysts weary of the Necas government's harsh austerity - as well as several corruption scandals - the right went into general elections in October 2013 under severe pressure. It was little shock that parties on the right lost heavily; the surprise was the rise of new party Ano, which campaigned on an anti-corruption ticket.

Led by billionaire Andrej Babis, Ano only just fell short of the seats won by the centre-left Social Democrats (CSSD). It has since led polls, despite its leader's conflicts of interest. Meanwhile, the right lags heavily.