Czech prosecutors indict former president's top aide for embezzlement

Czech prosecutors indict former president's top aide for embezzlement
Vratislav Mynar holding the order convening the lower house for President Zeman to sign when he was in hospital in 2021. Mynar had been accused of forging the signature. / bne IntelliNews
By Albin Sybera April 23, 2024

Vratislav Mynar, who was the chancellor of former Czech populist president Milos Zeman, has been indicted by state prosecutors for alleged embezzlement of EU subsidies. He denies any wrongdoing.

Mynar was the key aide during Zeman’s 10-year-long tenure at the Prague Castle, and was linked to several scandals surrounding the presidency. Mynar never obtained a security clearance while working for Zeman.

Mynar is now indicted of illegally obtaining CZK5.99mn (€0.24mn) for his company Clever Management 13 years ago to reconstruct a hostel at his home village Osvetimany. Clever Management returned the subsidy in April last year.

“The regional court in Brno received the indictment last week. The proceedings will be held in the Brno Regional Court Zlin affiliate,” the court’s spokesperson Klara Belkova was quoted as saying by Czech Radio on April 22.

Mynar told the Czech Press Agency he welcomes and is “looking forward to the opportunity to defend [himself] publicly in the criminal proceedings led against me by police”. He also accused authorities of “not respecting principles governing criminal proceedings”.

Mynar has faced investigations of subsidy embezzlement and harming the EU interests since 2021 and denies any wrongdoing in the case, which was sparked by a probe discovering that Clever Management’s object was already financed by CZK13mn national subsidy from the Ministry of Education.   

Mynar told online news outlet Seznam Zpravy in 2020 that Clever Management was a new applicant which had never applied for any subsidy before.

“In the second phase, the project of Clever Management was approved for financing even though it should have been disqualified for not meeting elimination criteria, and the company was unjustifiably paid a subsidy,” a police report quoted by SZ reads.

This is the latest development in the series of conflicts of the ex-president aides with Czech authorities since Zeman left office last March.

Shortly before leaving  Prague Castle, Zeman pardoned construction company Energie stavebni a banska (ESB), which had been banned from taking part in public tenders in the country for three years for its involvement in the rigged CZK200mn public tender for Klicava water project at the Presidential Lany Forestry Administration, the president's summer retreat.

Prior to that, Zeman also pardoned his official Milos Balak, who was sentenced to three years in prison for his role in the Klicava tender.

Zeman’s former aide Martin Nejedly, a former representative of Russian oil giant Lukoil, has openly maintained access to high officials inside the Kremlin and Czech counterintelligence BIS has referred to Nejedly as a security risk.

Zeman backed Russian dictator Vladimir Putin during much of his presidency and only moderated his warm approach to Putin after the Russian full-scale invasion of Ukraine in 2022.