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Secret Pandur Agreement: Bring the Politicians, We’ll Pay

  14:26aktualizováno  14:26
MF DNES has a proof that the Army contract was preceded by an agreement on lobbying of politicians. The rake-off allegedly amounted to over one billion CZK.
Pandur armoured vehicle.

Pandur armoured vehicle. | foto: Alexandr Satinský, MAFRA

17th February

One of the biggest army contracts, one that will cost the national budget over CZK 14 billion, has a rather dubious background.

Apparently, the Austrian company Steyr, the supplier of Pandur armoured vehicles, bought lobbing with the Czech politicians well before the request for proposals was officially announced. They even hired a Czech "consultant", Jan Vlček, who was assigned, for an exceptionally high commission – according to the information available up to CZK 1.4 billion – to arrange "informative meetings" with the members of the government, Parliament and the Army.

A copy of the contract between Steyr and Vlček, strictly confidential as it is defined in the Article 6 thereof, is in the possession of MF DNES. The document was signed by Steyr representatives and Mr Vlček in December 2002. A year later, Špidla’s administration announced that the Czech Army needed new armoured vehicles and the "order machinery" started. At the end, a contract was signed with Steyr, Austria, for 107 vehicles. Among other things, the contract states: "By February 2003, Jan Vlček will arrange the following meetings: a meeting between Steyr and the Minister of the Interior, Gross, Minister of the Industry, Rusnok, the Chief of the General Staff, Štefka, or the deputy to the Defence Minister, Škopek."

The consultant Vlček who does not hide his good contacts to the Social Democrats, admitted that the contract had been signed. "Well, the purpose was to show them that we had good contacts," he says commenting on the then requirements of Steyr.

And the Steyr company? Their media representative, Mr Jan Piskáček, sent in a rather brief statement: "Steyr company have decided not to respond to your questions." The original contract signed in 2002 was fulfilled by Vlček only partially. Instead of people named in the agreement he fetched another politician, the then chairman of the Parliament, Lubomír Zaorálek of CSSD.

He remembers the meeting with the Steyr boss. He says they had just exchanged courtesies over the development of engineering and metallurgic industry in the Ostrava region. They did not talk about Pandurs, Zaorálek claims. "Perhaps they said we should meet again but there was no other meeting. We did not get to concrete projects," he says.

According to the agreement, Vlček and his people were to receive up to 7 per cent of the commission value if the negotiations were successful. Vlček himself admitted this when speaking to MF DNES. But – he says – the partnership with Steyr ended after a couple of months. Vlček says it was him who ended the partnership as he saw that Steyer wanted to bribe the politicians. "I saw that the whole story went into a different direction."

However, the memorandum on the end of the partnership states that Vlček failed to meet Steyr’s requests, including, among other things, organizing meetings with the key politicians. The Austrian company then found someone else who brought the politicians they had been targeting.

PAMCO, led by an influential businessman Pavel Musela, a good friend of Stanislav Gross, became their new partner.

Lobbying contract

Who concluded the agreement? In December 2002, the Austrian company Steyr hired the Czech businessman Jana Vlček. What was the agreement about? Vlček was to arrange meeting with key politicians and the army people. He was to be rewarded for this by a consulting agreement. What was the reward? If Steyr won, they would pay up to 7% of the commission price, i.e. over CZK 1.4 billion.

Too expensive Pandurs

What do we need them for? 107 armoured vehicles Pandur will replace the 40-year old armoured vehicles OT64. Who did choose Pandurs? The request for proposals was announced by Gross administration in 2005 and they were chosen by Paroubek’s administration in 2006. How much does Pandur cost? The Czech Republic paid CZK 134 million for a single vehicle; Portugal, at the same time, paid CZK 40 million.

17th February

Big, nice – and bloody expensive

The Czech Republic bought 107 armoured vehicles Pandur from Steyr for CZK 14.4 billion; Portugal bought, at the same time, 260 armoured vehicles Pandur from the same company for EUR 365 million, i. e. around CZK 10.7 billion.

A single Pandur thus cost the Czechs CZK 134 million, which is 95 million more than the Portuguese paid. How is this possible? The Defence Ministry does not know. "We don’t have detailed data and conditions of the Portuguese contract. Rough comparison of prices, albeit of vehicles in the seemingly identical category, can be confusing," said the current Defence Minister, Martin Barták, when asked about the matter by MF DNES. He refused to provide any additional comment.

Barták is one of the people who are responsible for the deal: he signed the contract last year in March, eleven days before the Topolánek administration fell, still as the deputy to the then Defence Minister, Vlasta Parkanová.

The purchase of 107 Pandur vehicles for the Czech army was preceded by long and rather obscure negotiations between the Czech officials and the Austrian company Steyr. The first tender was cancelled and then Steyr was given a second chance.

In 2006 the company won the tender to supply the Czech army with 234 armoured vehicles for the record price of CZK 23.6 billion.

Then one armoured vehicle would have cost CZK 101 million, which is 35 million less than the Czech Republic paid in 2009.

Minister Barták thinks that the inflation is to blame. "The comparison of the original and later prices is not fair. The prices of the vehicles differ only by the impact of inflation," Barták commented on the price difference that occurred in three years.

Another thing, he says, is that the "cheapest" version of the armoured vehicles was ultimately left out of the contract. However, he failed to provide details on how many vehicles were the cheapest ones or in what they were different.

Ondřej Moravanský, the analyst of Cyrrus, is astonished by such an explanation. "Inflation rate of 30 per cent in three years, this is just not possible. It was an armament deal, perhaps the price of some items went up, but this has nothing to do with inflation. This argument cannot hold," he says. Let us look on one of the biggest deals of the Czech army from the beginning.

The company Steyr won, four years ago, the tender to provide the Czech army with armoured vehicles. The price was the main criterion. But the tender was cancelled. On December 7, 2007, the government decided to annul the contract. However, Steyr was given a "second chance" which was quite surprising. "To announce a new tender would take too long and the armoured vehicles would have been delivered with a delay of several years. Moreover, if the same requirements were maintained, it is a question whether we could get more favourable conditions," explains Barták today.

The requirements of the Czech party were really small. It requested that the Austrian armament company accept independent trials. "The results of these trials confirmed that the producer was able to meet the technical parameters, therefore negotiations of a new contract were started," says Barták. On March 13, 2009, he signed a contract that sets the price of a single Pandur at CZK 134 million.

"The new vehicles considerably improve the ability of the army to protect the citizens," comments Barták. The problem is, however, that the Portuguese citizens are protected by three Pandurs for the price of one Czech.

The price of Pandur armoured vehicle

Czech Republic
In average, one Pandur costs CZK 134 million (the Czech Republic bought 107 Pandurs for CZK 14.4 billion)

In average, one Pandur costs CZK 41 million (Portugal bought 260 Pandurs for CZK 10.7 billion).

Pandurs are equipped with night vision.
The maximum speed can be up to 150kmph
Pandurs are seven and a half metre long, with cannon, they are over three metres tall
11 people can get in the vehicle
Cannon can be controlled remotely
Speed in water: 10kmph
Weight of full vehicle: 20 tons

18th February

Hidden camera of MF DNES: "Rake-off for every party"

The managers of Steyr described the negotiations of a multibillion deal for the Czech army

How did Steyr persuade the Czech army to buy Pandurs? Who of the politicians were they in contact? Where did the rake-off money go?

Two former senior managers of the Austrian armament company described all of this in detail to the reporter of MF DNES who posed as a businessman. Everything was recorded on a hidden camera. Former Steyr’s managers, Wolfgang Habitzl and Herwig Jedlaucnik says: Stanislav Gross, Karel Kühnl and Martin Barták played part in secret negotiations.

The testimony provided by the managers who were responsible for the "Czech project" is interesting namely since they both were present at most of the meetings and they know all the details. During two meetings with the reporter they described details and plans to influence the tender and to whom they planned to send the money. To win the tender, they hired a lobbying company which was promised a commission. "The whole sum of the commission is not their reward... they, too, have their ,costs’, somebody helped them ... two to three per cent were for the political parties," said Wolfgang Habitzl in a muted voice. The first Pandur agreement was signed after a lengthy negotiations by Paroubek’s administration: the then price of the armoured vehicles was CZK 20 billion. Two to three per cent of this sum would make half a billion. The politicians Barták, Gross and Kühnl were, the managers claim, part of the secret agreement that ultimately ended by Steyr winning the tender. Besides that, Jedlaucnik claims to know all these politicians in person.

Martin Barták signed agreement as the deputy to the Minister of Defence.

"I strongly refuse any part in the agreements that you mention," says the Minister of Defence. He says that the whole issue can be a provocation in which his name was used without "him being aware of it."

"I have never met any foreigner over this issue. Definitely. Well, I am quite sure. I think, or I am rather sure," said Stanislav Gross.

Karel Kühnl signed the controversial deal when he was in demission.

"I have never met any Steyr people on my own. When I met them there were always many people around," says the current Czech ambassador to Croatia.

The managers also mentioned the name of Jiří Paroubek. Wolfgang Habitzl admitted good contacts to "a rising star in the socialist party," a deputy to the mayor in Prague. At that time, it was Paroubek who held this post. Jedlaucnik even says that he met Paroubek over the deal. "I don’t know, I can’t remember," says Jiří Paroubek when asked whether he met Steyr managers. The last participant of the meeting was PAMCO.

"PAMCO is a key player," says Jedlaucnik. This company is owned by a good friend of Stanislav Gross, Pavel Musela. In 2008, he became a victim of attempted murder attack. The motive is not clear yet. Musela’s condition is poor and the company is managed by his colleague, Petr Veselý.

"It’s not true that PAMCO stood behind these deals," says Petr Veselý. When asked whether he had a meeting with Steyr people, he refused to answer.

18th February

We know that to bribe is forbidden but...

RAKE-OFF FOR PANDURS On recording made by a hidden camera, the names of real politicians were mentioned explicitly.

The reporter of MF DNES, Janek Kroupa, met with the representatives of the Austrian company Steyr who delivered armoured vehicles Pandur for the Czech army. He introduced himself as a businessman who makes his business buying and selling debts. He said that out of business reasons he wanted to unravel the rake-offs for multibillion deals. This is a transcript of the most of the two meetings, recorded by a hidden camera.

The first meeting:

Wolfgang Habitzl, 8th January, Mikulos, Kroupa (alias Radvít Pokorný): From some documents I learned that there was a debate between SSF (Steyr – editorial note) and people around Jan Vlček (businessman who worked for Steyr) about the rake-off of seven per cent, then 3 per cent. This is much money for a commission.

Habitzl: Yes. I have my notes how much was given to individual parties.
Kroupa: You have it?
Habitzl: Yes, I have it somewhere.
Kroupa: What you mean when you say a party?
Habitzl: The project must be in the interest of the local economy so you have to offer the very best. Local contacts are important. A part of this commission is not just for the consultants, they have their costs, someone helped them. They are not the only players in the field.
Kroupa: Do you know how much money has been distributed in this way?
Habitzl: I don’t know how much it was but I do know how much we had planned.
Kroupa: My plan, and I’ll put it straight, is to get – via our contacts – in touch with those in power who participated on deciding about this project, and here I mean politicians, to show them the contract, saying we want no scandal. Allow us to reach a fair deal with those people. I think it could work. Do you know how much money was sent to those who took the decisions?
Habitzl: The commission was divided into several parts. One part for the company with a licence, second for a group of people who supported us, and one per cent for Vlček.
Kroupa: I meant money for those who decided.
Habitz: You know, this is a part of the game. You know that naturally it is forbidden to give any money. But you have consultants and agents and they have their people. They all sign a declaration that they know rules against bribery. But it’s a part of that game that they do it and we don’t know it officially.
Kroupa: I am asking about the unofficial part.
Habitzl: This was the logic of Malzacher (former CEO of Steyr). He did not want to hear that we bribed anybody. He used to say that we would cover the costs of our intermediaries. It was to be 2 to 3 per cent for every political party.
Kroupa: Two to three per cent for every party?
Habitzl: Roughly. I have it somewhere in my papers. It’s like that in every country?
Kroupa: In Austria too?
Habitzl: There it’s even worse! (...)
Habitzl: We developed it in such a way to have both parties. Jan Vlček was a social democrat, the best friend of Miloš Zeman. It’s a pity he was not elected the President. Then we had one more. He worked with Jan who came later. The other had ODS.
Kroupa: What was his name?
Habitzl: Peter... he covered part of ODS. We had people for the socialists. I have to look into my notes, it was their rising star, a deputy to the mayor or mayor in Prague. He was quite nice... It’s quite common to have all the parties covered. The contract was signed after the change of government. So it’s now evident to me that PAMCO did it in the same way we had done it. You need to have both parties secured because you never know what the outcome of election will be.
Kroupa: Last year (2008 – editorial note), something strange happened. The project was out of a sudden postponed. Why?
Habitzl: Yes. I think someone did not get the money.

Second meeting:

Herwig Jedlaucnik (together with Habitzl), 22nd January, Vienna.

Kroupa: Do you have information who of Czech politicians got the money? Can you give us this information and contacts?
Jedlaucnik: Yes, sure, we know who the partners of Steyr were and what the sums were.
Kroupa: Of the people who decided, who would you recommend to speak to? I mean the politicians, not PAMCO people.
Jedlaucnik: You mean from politics?
Kroupa: You know the story.
Jedlaucnik: The signed agreement included not only political representatives but also the army people. It’s a very difficult question. Many people got involved. PAMCO played a key role.
Kroupa: Do you know about the relation between PAMCO and Mr Gross?
Jedlaucnik: Of course, I know Gross and many other people. At certain time he was important. And he left in the moment which was bad for him. Many people... and one key player.
Kroupa: Who is the key player?
Jedlaucnik: PAMCO
Kroupa: Do you know the reasons why the contract was postponed?
Jedlaucnik: Because they did not take my advice and I left the company after that. It may seem arrogant but it is true. At one point, they behaved really stupidly.
Kroupa: Who?
Jedlaucnik: Steyr. With the new owners. When the Americans bought the company in 2003 they left the European management in place which managed General Dynamics in Europe. Shortly before the Czech project went wrong, the U.S.-Swiss top managers sacked General Dynamics manager and later management of Steyr. These guys wanted to do things differently, they sacked people and misunderstandings occurred about this project. They thought they were the cleverest, they did not take my advice. I was telling them I would not go against what had been agreed. It was a question of reputation for me. I live on my reputation. I make money on it. So I left. A couple of months later they lost much money. The new contract does not have such a value.
Kroupa: You know, we had an impression back in the Czech Republic that you knew who Mr Barták was.
Jedlaucnik: Yes.
Kroupa: That he did not get his money, that is how we perceived it. And then it changed. Perhaps I see it in a too simplified way.
Jedlaucnik: It’s not that simple. But you are right that this was a part of the whole story which did not run as it should have. But it’s yet more complicated.
Kroupa: If I understand right what you’re saying, then Mr Barták is the right person to speak to?
Jedlaucnik: Maybe.
Kroupa: This is the first information which has a meaning for me.
Jedlaucnik: There could be more of it, you can learn the whole story. But I won’t do that in return for a paid coffee.
Kroupa: What I’ll say now is based on what we talked about. If I understood you right, then Barták is the man in ODS we have to speak to. This I understand and I don’t need to know more. Who is the man in ČSSD. Is it Gross?
Jedlaucnik: He is no doubt one of those you should speak to.
Kroupa: Does he have a reason to prevent this contract being publicized?
Jedlaucnik: Hard to say. This all depends on how tough these guys are. But it’s certainly a new worry. I can’t say whether some of those guys get nervous and would not demand to see something. The key proof does not exist. We would not get anywhere if you thought you might got something like that. We don’t work with idiots but with professionals on both sides. I think, however, that your idea is good. You have to assess how to play it with these guys. Besides that there is a legal aspect – that Steyr was stupid for some time, that they did something which was not in compliance with the law.
Kroupa: How many political parties are involved then? How many players will I have to speak to. Evidently it’s Mr Barták, then the social democrats... Anybody else?
Jedlaucnik: Yes.
Kroupa: Who?
Jedlaucnik: laughing...
Kroupa: Did you speak to people around Paroubek or to him in person?
Jedlaucnik: Yes, we did.
Kroupa: With Paroubek?
Jedlaucnik: Yes.
Kroupa: Is him a man that you can speak to? Or his guys?
Jedlaucnik: He is a troublesome guy.
Kroupa: Do you know Jansta? Or Tvrdík?
Jedlaucnik: Tvrdík. Yes, of course.
Kroupa: Did he play a part in that the deal was stopped?
Jedlaucnik: We will speak next time. Then we will make another step.
Kroupa: We will try to send first information to those people. We will do it probably next week, that is why I am asking to find out the responses.
Jedlaucnik: I’ll give you one name. Kühnl.
Kroupa: He is the third one, do I understand it rightly?
Jedlaucnik: Yes, he lived here.
Kroupa: This I know. Do you know him from here?
Jedlaucnik: No, he was a soldier. We always had a great talk in German (laughs).
Kroupa: Let us close it and correct me if I am wrong because we will be working with it and I don’t want to make a mistake? Is it correct to surmise that Barták, Kühnl and Tvrdík played a part in that thwarted deal?
Jedlaucnik: I am not sure about the last one...
Kroupa: I will tell you why I need to know it now. We need to get the business going. As Mr Habitzl said correctly, the election is drawing near and we don’t want to do it too close to the election because everybody will be nervous. This is the right time they should learn that there is such a thing and that somebody will approach them and will talk to them about it.
Jedlaucnik: Be sure that if you let out such information, it will be a great racket.
Kroupa: We are ready for it. We need to hear that racket in order to appreciate the agreement.
Jedlaucnik: What you know already now will make a sufficient racket... we have already spoken about one person from among the social democrats.
Kroupa: Stanislav?
Jedlaucnik: Yes.

Wolfgang Habitzl
He worked for Steyr; his task was to "get going" the Pandur project for the Czech Republic. He says that his task was to build a strong lobbyist team which he did. He left Steyr in 2003 after the management decided to work with a different consulting group – PAMCO people. He is still active in the arms business and works closely with people from Steyr. He is a former officer of the Austrian army. It was in the army that he met his future colleague, Herwig Jedlaucnik, who took over the Czech project after him. Together with Jedlaucnik, they present themselves as a team.

Herwig Jedlaucnik
Originally he was a soldier. Today, he presents himself as an independent consultant. For many years he worked in the Steyr company. He was responsible for the Czech project and he managed to take it to signing of the contract. He left the company at the moment when the new management arrived who, as he says, "wanted to do things differently". He owns four consultancies in Slovakia. All of them were established in two-month time in mid 2009 and they form a confusing cluster of companies in which one company owns another. Jedlaucnik wanted to exchange information about the background of the deal for a contract with one of the Slovakian companies.

To see recorded discussions between Habitzl, Jedlaucnik and MF DNES under cover reporter, click here and watch the video.

18th February

Travelling to meet the key witnesses

COMMISSION OF THE PANDUR DEAL. How MF DNES reporter got former Steyr managers talking.

January 8 was not a nice day. This year’s heavy snowfalls just started. In the luxury limousine, which has buttons for just everything, it was warm.

At four p.m. we have a meeting in the Mikulov hotel Galant. We are expecting the arrival of the Austrian businessman Wolfgang Habitzl. It was him who negotiated one of the biggest armament deals of recent history, the purchase of armoured vehicles for over CZK 20 billion. At the meeting I pose as a debt-trading man. This is why we chose the luxury saloon car, this is why I wear a terribly uncomfortable suit. In my hand I hold a contract between Steyr and the Czech businessman, Jan Vlček. Habitzl’s name is mentioned in this contract.

"Who of the politicians must keep silent?" As a debt-trading man I have a very good excuse to ask him for more information about the agreement as such, but also about the whole deal. I need to know the names of the Czech politicians who received rake-off in order to approach them and to ask them to buy, in all secrecy, the secret agreement which I am in possession of.

The man I am about to meet should know about all background deals. It was him who launched the Czech Pandur project eight years ago.

Wolfgang Habitzl arrives forty minutes later. At first he was cautious. He wanted to know who I was and what I wanted.

"I do financial business. Debts, not arms. We are planning to sell this contract but we would like to do peacefully," I responded in order to avoid further asking on his part, fearing I could not keep the conversation otherwise. About arms I know that they are designed to shoot and that some of them indeed do. Nothing more. If I posed as a arms dealer, he would see through me in a couple of sentences. My answer seemed to satisfy Habitzl. Slowly, he started to talk. "A part of the background story is that I worked for Steyr. Then I quit. I was responsible for the European markets, especially for the Czech market. So it was me who got this project going," Habitzl says.

He watched me attentively. After a couple of minutes of mutual probing I took up courage and went directly to the thing. I draw attention to a possible bribery behind the deal. Either he stands up and leaves or he starts to talk.

I asked: "Since apparently the politicians, not only politicians but also politicians, are involved, I don’t believe they would take this to court. What do you think?"

To my surprise, he did not hesitate at all.

"Yes, I started with the project in 2001. I was introduced to some people in the Czech Republic, to Jan Vlček. He was a consultant, working for EADS at the time (international armament company – note of the editor). We started working on the project. At that time it was far from clear that there would be a tender. It was long before the whole process began. When we get to the point where we felt it could be pushed through my task was to build a team of people that we needed."

And Wolfgang Habitzl starts describing how much money they had planned for political parties and how well thought-out the system of sending of bribes via various consultants was.

We closed our meeting after an hour, both agreeing that we yet have to meet. For next time, he promises to bring his colleague who brought the Czech project into the final phase when the contract was ultimately signed.

A fortnight later we met again. This time also with Herwig Jedlaucnik. It was in Vienna, in the luxury hotel InterContinental.

Contrary to Habitzl, Jedlaucnik went straight to the point: "I am a consultant. If you hire me, I’ll tell you what I know. Yes, the rake-off money went to the Czech Republic."

For some time it looked as if I had no chance to learn anything without signing a contract with him. But then he starts talking. A simple trick helped. I asked him: "How can I evaluate your service when you have told me nothing. You have to tell me at least something. Let’s start with this: what politicians were involved in the deal?"

18th February

When a journalist hides his identity

A reporter's diary

Never before has our reported passed as a businessman and took part in "business negotiations" beyond the borders of our country. Only now – in the case in which we wanted to unravel the background of the 14-billion army deal for the Pandur armoured vehicles.

We admit that we were inspired by a report by our Swedish colleagues who, three years ago, checked possible corruption in the Gripen deal. They passed as weapon dealers and the Czech ex-foreign minister, Jan Kavan (ČSSD), talked to hidden camera about the bribes for our politicians. Subsequently, it grew into an international scandal. There are various rumours surrounding the transparency of Czech deals, not only those in the army. It was these rumours that the information, acquired by the reporter Janek Kroupa in late 2008, fit in perfectly: the tender for the delivery of armoured vehicles to the Czech army was accompanies by a strong lobbying right from the start. From a reliable source – a man who was indirectly involved in the deal – we got a copy of a secret lobbyist contract concluded by Steyr, the company that won in the end.

We could have discussed only the contract in the paper; it was interesting enough. But we wanted to know more – we wanted to talk to the witnesses, to the direct participants of the agreement. It took us many months to arrive at the final decision: we will check the authenticity of the agreement and everything that accompanied the deal in a direct confrontation with the Steyr people. It was clear to us that they would not talk to a journalist trying to unravel the background of their business. So for this purpose, Janek Kroupa became a debt-trading businessman called Radvít Pokorný.

The very fact that the former Steyr employee, Wolfgang Habitzl, agreed with the meeting showed us that we were on the right track. At the meeting he confirmed that the contract was authentic and then, together with his colleague Herwig Jedlaucnik, they told "the businessman Pokorný" what rake-offs the agreement included and for whom. Since they are businessmen themselves, they saw the meeting with Pokorný as an opportunity to sign a consultancy contract and to make some money on the new business.

19th February

"Yes, I know, it’s a crime"

RAKE-OFF FOR ARMOURED VEHICLES. The testimony of former managers recorded by a hidden camera.

The Austrian managers whose testimony about the lobbied tender was shot by a hidden camera admit: We paid to influence the politicians.

Two Austrian managers described in detail the bribes planned by Steyr for the Czech politicians in return for the armoured vehicle deal. However, they were not speaking to a Czech debt-trader but with a MF DNES reporter who passed as one. Everything was recorded on a hidden camera.

After MF DNES published the interview yesterday, the managers said it was just a joke. But a confrontation by MF DNES shows something quite different.

One of the managers, Wolfgang Habitzl, described negotiations about the Pandur deal: "We cover the costs of our intermediaries. Two to three per cent for every political party."

Responding to the question whether he knows who of the Czech politicians received money, his colleague Herwig Jedlaucnik said: "Yes, sure, we know who the partners of Steyr were and what the sums were." Then Jedlaucnik said that Stanislav Gross, Karel Kühnl and Martin Barták were included in secret negotiations. He conditioned disclosing of further information by a money deal. Both men wanted to sign a consultancy contract with the "businessman," adding that they realize that "it’s not easy to find a way to do the contract legally." That was the reason why MF DNES decided to stop the hidden camera project. Last Sunday, the reported called them and revealed his true identity to them.

Both responses are recorded.

MFD: Hello, I have information for you. My name is not Pokorný. This was a journalist investigation after bribery in the Pandur case.

Jedlaucnik: This does not surprise me.

MFD: Do you realize that what we spoke about is a serious crime in both countries?

Jedlaucnik: It seems to be.

MFD: ... And that you admitted your participation on the bribery?

Jedlaucnik: Of course not.

MFD: Every word you said is recorded on a hidden camera.

Jedlaucnik: Evidently...

MFD: Then, how is it with Kühnl, Barták and Gross as you spoke about it?

Jedlaucnik: You mix things up, taking them out of logic and context. We spoke about out consultants having very close relations with these people.

MFD: Do you realize that you spoke about a commission?

Jedlaucnik: Yes, of course. Consultants usually get commissions.

MFD: Do you remember speaking about the dark side of this contract?

Jedlaucnik: Yes, it means that they had very good contacts to certain people... the commission was paid to consultants who got us in touch with those who decided, i.e. the politicians.

MFD: Even what you are saying now is very important.

Jedlaucnik: Yes, it is but it is not illegal.

Immediately after the interview with Herwig Jedlaucnik MFD called his colleague, Wolfgang Habitzl, to prevent them from discussing the matter. Habitzl answered the phone immediately as he expected an offer for his new consultation services. Apparently, Jedlaucnik had no time to get in touch with him.

Habitzl: "Hello, Mr Pokorný."

MFD: "Hello, Mr Habitzl. I am calling because I have information for you. My name is not Pokorný but Janek Kroupa. I am a reporter, investigating the bribery in the Czech Pandur deal.

Habitzl: Yes.

MFD: Do you realize that what we spoke about is a serious crime in both countries?

Habitzl: Yes.

MFD: Do you remember telling me that there were 2 to 3 per cent prepared for ODS and ČSSD?

Habitzl: Yes.

MF: Can you explain it, please?

Habitzl: No... (stammering)... this was just a proposal by Mr Vlček...

(a telephone rings)

Habitzl: Can I give you a ring in a moment?

MFD: I suppose it’s Mr Jedlaucnik calling, I spoke to him a while ago.

Habitzl: Yes.

MFD: Do you remember speaking, together with Mr Jedlaucnik, about the dirty side of the deal?

Habitzl: Yes.

MFD: You in fact admitted to a crime.

Habitzl: How come, when there was...

MFD: You gave me the names Gross, Barták and Kühnl who participated on that.

Habitzl: Yes

MFD: Could you explain it, please?

Habitzl (silent for a while)... under these circumstance I don’t want to explain anything. I told you something we had planned but which has not materialized.

Yesterday, after the hidden camera records were published, they issued a press statement: "It was a joke. He heard from us what he wanted to hear, i.e. that virtually all the politicians and all the parties got involved in a deal. When we were approached by a poorly masked journalist, passing as a manager of an investment company, asking us for help to monetize an alleged claim by Mr Vlček, we could not resist a temptation to take him to thin ice." Why should they do that and why they asked for money they do not say. Their defence is understandable, both in Austria and in the Czech Republic the two men face a risk of prosecution. What is remarkable is how much their statement resembles the statement issued by Jan Kavan after he was recorded by Swedish journalists describing the dirty background of the Gripen deal. "I often said things they wanted to hear," said Kavan then. However, he could not prevent the case from investigation. It is currently investigated by the Austrian attorney and the Czech General Attorney said she would reopen the case in the Czech Republic too.


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