Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Gross, Skromach to testify in Unipetrol case

Polish state attorneys will probably be present on Wednesday at the questioning of former Prime Minister Stanislav Gross and former labour and social affairs minister Zdenek Skromach (both Social Democrats, CSSD) in the case of the suspected corruption in the privatisation of Unipetrol.

Gross and Skromach will testify about the circumstances of the sale of the petrochemical holding Unipetrol to the Polish company PKN Orlen in 2004.

The Polish state attorneys want to clarify whether the sale was accompanied by corruption. They arrived in Prague for the second time within one month. At their request, Czech police are questioning witnesses, including leading Czech politicians who had something to do with the privatisation of Unipetrol.

Former Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek, who was questioned by the police Monday, said after the questioning that in his view, the detectives had found no proof that any crimes were committed by Czech citizens in connection with Unipetrol's privatisation.

Detectives from the anti-corruption police, in cooperation with Polish state attorneys, would like to hear nine witnesses by Friday, including another former PM Vladimir Spidla and current PM and Civic Democrat (ODS) chairman Mirek Topolanek.

Polish investigators are also preparing a new application for legal assistance since they want to question another 18 people.

Polish investigators started to take interest in the privatisation of Unipetrol in connection with a suspicion of corruption and damage that PKN Orlen may have incurred.