MF DNES obtained a protocol of the manager’s interrogation by the Czech and Austrian detectives in Vienna in March. The manager who was responsible for the Czech deal, provided a testimony about the negotiation. He spoke about two meetings - in Brno (October 26, 2007) and Prague (November 8, 2007). The meetings were attended by the European management of General Dynamics (Steyr’s parent company) and the Czech side was represented by the deputy to the Defence Minister, Martin Barták, the lobbyist Marek Dalík and the Slovakian weapon dealer Miroslav Výboh.
Austrian and Czech investigators got hold of a key testimony by a Steyr manager
When the Prague meeting was at the end, Barták asked the president of the European branch of General Dynamics, John Ulrich, for a private interview. After they had left the room, Dalík - the manager says - asked for the huge sum.
"He told that that if we were interested in making the deal we should pay 6 million EUR three times," the manager says. Four men were present at that time: him, Dalík, U.S. diplomat and consultant of General Dynamics, Victor Jakovich, and Miroslav Výboch.
MF DNES asked the participants of that meeting to comment: Marek Dalík has not answered the phone nor has he replied to a text message. He sent - via his associate - a message that he was abroad and that he would reply to the questions when he had time. In the evening, he told novinky.cz: "I have never asked anybody for any money." He confirmed, nevertheless, that he had been present at these meetings. Martin Barták and Miroslav Výboh have not responded at all.
The Czech police and the general attorney are currently checking the testimony. "We respond to all the information we get during investigation. On the basis of an agreement with our Austrian colleagues, however, we will not comment upon individual steps taken," said the Attorney’s spokeswoman Irena Válová.
The Steyr’s manager said, among other things, that they informed the American Embassy in Prague about Dalík’s request in 2007. What the Embassy did at that time is not clear. It is not known whether the company actually has sent a bribe to the Czech Republic and to whom. According to the Czech Law, even a request for bribe is a criminal offence.
The management of General Dynamics did not want to respond to the findings by MF DNES. The President, John Ulrich, and his deputy Lutz Kampmann apologised for not
commenting on the meetings. Topolánek’s government finally concluded the deal with Steyr and the Czech Republic bought 107 vehicles for CZK 14.4 billion.
Janek Kroupa, MF DNES
Precious proof found in Steyr raid
The Austrian police asked for MF DNES footage in Steyr case. A raid in Steyr managers’s homes yielded a new testimony
Why did the Austrian police decide to make a raid in Steyr and in some of its former managers? How did they get the key testimony that the Czech lobbyist, Marek Dalík, pointed out that they had to pay 18 million EUR in three instalments if the company wanted the project to proceed (the sale of armoured vehicles to the Czech Army).
Everything started with an article published by MF DNES which included a testimony of two Steyr’s former managers, Wolfgang Habitzl and Herwig Jedlaucnik - shot by a hidden camera. A MF DNES reported passed for a businessman and the managers tried to sell him their knowledge about the weapon deal. They said they had bribes ready for both of the Czech major political parties. And they said that the negotiations had been accompanied by secret agreements in the background.
The day after the article the Austrian General Attorney contacted MF DNES and asked for the footage. MF DNES obliged and three days later the Austrian investigators raided the homes of the two former managers as well as Steyr headquarters where they seized hundreds of documents. As it transpired later, a document of key importance was among them, titled "Memo chronology Pandur CZ".
The document was discovered by a joint Czech-Austrian police team which had been established in September last year (a half a year after the case was publicised by MF DNES). The document was written at the end of 2007, i.e. at the time when the Czech government was about to cancel the billion contract for the supply of armoured vehicles concluded with the Austrian company.
Steyr therefore starting working on a defence, preparing material for arbitration against the Czech Republic. Chronology was among the documents used. It was signed by a Steyr manager and the Austrian investigators asked him to come for interrogation in the Anti-fraud headquarters.
"Here you can see a copy of a document titled Memo chronology of CZ Pandur program. Do you recognise it? Are you the sole author of this document?" asks the investigator.
"I am the author of this document," says the manager, explaining he was given this task by the Vice President of the European branch of General Dynamics, the owner of Steyr. "I was asked by Mr Kampmann to do this in order to prepare for arbitration against the Czech Republic on the protection of investment," said the manager and then mentioned other things, such as the Prague meeting of November 2007. The Steyr managers negotiated with Marek Dalík, the Slovakian arm dealer Miroslav Výboh, the deputy to the Defence Minister, Martin Barták, and others. He also explained why the Slovakian businessman Výboh was present at the negotiations – allegedly Výboh closely cooperated with Dalík.
A diplomat mentioned the bribe off-record three years ago
MF DNES has been following the complex bribery case touching the highest level of politics for over three years. At the beginning of 2008, the newspaper received a shocking information from a source among the foreign diplomats.
Marek Dalík and two more people allegedly asked for a huge bribe in return for the government’s approval of new conditions in the Pandur deal conducted with Steyr, a subsidiary of General Dynamics. It was information which could not be – despite maximum effort - checked and proved. All the people that the newspaper had addressed refused to comment, including whether they informed the Czech police or the FBI - which is something that the Americans are bound to do by the Law.
Only evasive answers could be heard, both from the representatives of the American Embassy which - as the testimony of the Steyr manager makes clear – was informed about the bribery intentions. But the most important thing: those who were informed about the bribery included the former U.S. Ambassador to Bosnia and Herzegovina Victor Jackovich - who worked for General Dynamics in 2007, nor as a government official but as a company lobbyist. He kept refusing all requests for an interview. "I have nothing to say on the matter. My role was just marginal," he wrote in an e-mail last year in March.
The former NATO General Secretary, Lord Robertson, who worked as a lobbyist for General Dynamics at the end of 2007 was open. In a statement issued last September he pointed to "suspicious character" of some non-specified "manoeuvres" accompanying the newly concluded Pandur deal.
The U.S. Embassy refused to provide any information even now, including information on who was notified about the case. The consult just commented: "The U.S.
government fights actively against bribery in any form and asks all who have relevant information to report them."
But they reported back in 2007.
If you want to continue, pay three times 6 million
VIENNA Friday, March 25, 2011, 10 a.m. A joint team of Czech and Austrian investigators meet in the headquarters of the Anti-fraud Police. On the basis of a document found during Steyr raids a witness was invited, a top manager in Steyr. His testimony brings a key twist into the Pandur investigation. The Czech and the Austrian police know his identity, he was interrogated, however, as an anonymous source.
MF DNES reprints key passages of the protocol.
Do you know whether during the negotiations (for the purchase of Pandur vehicles by the Czech Army) anybody contacted Steyr with the offer to help in tender in return for financial reward, or that this person would help Steyr with solving of problems in tender if Steyr pays?
There were two events: On October 26, 2007, there was a meeting in Brno of the GD-ELS President John Ulrich, the VP Lutz Kampmann, one of our consultants, the former U.S. ambassador Jackovich and me with the deputy of the Defence Minister Barták, some Mr Dalík and a Mr Výboh. The subject of the meeting was the reduction of the Pandur deal which GD would have accepted, had the difference been compensated by other GD products. There was an agreement that Memorandum of Understanding would be written. And it was.
Then there was a second meeting, without Mr Kampmann. It was on November 8, 2007, in Prague. It was agreed on that meeting that the project would be divide. Shortly before the end of the meeting Mr Barták asked Mr Ulrich for a private interview (later, Mr Ulrich told me it was about anything important) and it was at this time that Mr Dalík approached me with the following request: he would have participated on the original agreement for which he was promised CZK 100 million by Mr Musela. He has received nothing. If we want the project to go on, we must pay 18 million EUR in three payments. I asked him to explain in more details since this was a huge sum for rather vague thing. He more or less repeated the same and that transfer of money via Mr Musela would not be acceptable. The interview took for about 10 minutes and was ended by the return of Mr Ulrich and Mr Barták. To whom the money was to be paid was not clear. We asked Mr Dalík whether he had an official statement on this which he denied. Mr Jackovich and Mr Výboh were present at the interview.
Why did Mr Dalík participate and how was he introduced?
Mr Dalík arrived simply with Mr Barták. I don’t think he said a word during the negotiation. He was introduced just as Mr Dalík, I think it was Mr Barták who introduced him.
Who did Mr Výboh represent?
He was introduced as an intermediary. I did not know what he was to facilitate. I think there was some close association between him and Dalík.
Did Mr Dalík say what you would get in return for the 18 million?
Was the sum to be paid by GD or Steyr?
This was not clear.