Compensation for Vrbětice: The politician helped municipalities, now he is asking for millions in commissions

You can also listen to the article in audio version.

MEP Stanislav Polčák wants to raise millions of money paid by the state to municipalities in compensation for the devastating explosion of ammunition depots in Vrbětice in the Zlín region.

Polčák combined two of his roles. In addition to being vice-president of the STAN movement and member of the European Parliament, he is also a lawyer. The lawyer who offered municipalities around Vrbětice to represent them in compensation negotiations.

The law, under which the state paid nearly 310 million crowns to four municipalities, was approved by the Chamber of Deputies last year. And according to the conclusions of the news list, Polčák is now demanding a reward from the mayors – 2.5% of the amount received. That is a total of 7.75 million crowns.

“I wrote to them: Well, under the circumstances, I’ll take it – I don’t want anything if it fails. If it succeeds, I would like a share to be paid, which we will then agree on” , Polčák described how the cooperation began last spring.

But the problem is precisely that the mayors nodded to represent Polčák’s law firm, without knowing how much MEPs should set aside for his remuneration. At that time, they had not signed a contract with Polčák, so Polčák only offered them a reward in recent days.

“You don’t need a contract to represent you in a court case. You need to have a power of attorney. And, of course, an agreement that you can represent them,” Polčák defended.

Alena Gajdůšková (ČSSD), who last year as a senator from Zlín in the compensation negotiations, was surprised by Polčák’s affairs with the municipalities. “I thought it was free for them. And it never occurred to me that millions. I never did that in politics – wanting extra work for people,” Gajdůšková said.

Compensation for the Vrbětice explosion

Bohuslavice nad Vláří CZK36,568,000
Haluzice CZK15,976,000
Lipova CZK36,064,000
Slavicin CZK104,290,000
Vlachovice CZK116,560,000

However, it is already becoming stuffy in the villages surrounding the Vrbětice region. In Vlachovice, a village which lost 116.5 million thanks to compensation, the deputies voted last Monday the contract with Polčák.

The contract is made, for Polčák it means an income of 2.9 million.

The document was approved by the leadership of the municipality, despite the opposition of the opposition, who wondered why Polčák should receive money. Until then, opposition MPs believed that Polčák worked for the municipality for free – as a politician, by the way, from the Zlín region, who wanted to help with good things.

Mayor Zdeněk Hověžák, elected in the same capacity as Polčák for the STAN movement, did not answer the phone for two days.

“I will only give my opinion to my wife”

Other mayors also do not want to talk about Polčák’s demands. In Slavičín, where, by the way, MEP Polčák was born, the city management had the fees charged to its lawyer assessed. “It must be based on his opinion,” said Mayor Tomáš Chmela (Let’s wake up Slavičín) about the possible payout.

The mayor of Chmela also admits that Polčák did not have a clearly agreed commission at the start of the cooperation. “The amounts are up to date,” Chmela cautiously admitted. Be careful because the mayors are currently in a delicate situation: they are grateful to Polčák for helping them recover huge sums of money – but at the same time they probably did not expect Polčák’s reward is in the millions.

MPs from Slavičín knocked about 106 million, for Polčák it would mean 2.6 million. “If it was about services that fall within the realm of law, then he should get money for them. That’s how I perceived it at the beginning of the cooperation, ”said the mayor of Slavičín , Chmela “But it’s uncomfortable to talk about it now,” he apologized.

Also in Slavičín, the opposition wonders where Polčák’s claim suddenly takes place. “It just came to our knowledge at that time. Or no one told us about it,” said CSSD MP Zdeněk Rumplík, who earns his living as a lawyer.

Mayor František Machuča of Bohuslavice nad Vláří, where 36.6 million came from state compensation, does not want to talk about all this at all. “I don’t really know who’s calling me – if you’re really a journalist,” he said.

After a few minutes of conversation, he finally said that the contract with Polčák had not yet been voted on in his village. He doesn’t even know when the time will come. And his opinion, if the municipality should pay Polčák and how much? “I will keep my opinion for my wife,” Machucha concluded over the phone.

Polčák: I could have wanted more

Polčák himself admits that he does not like the hesitation of some mayors. “I also feel upset now, because if I said at the beginning that they would give me 10%, they would just give me 10%. But I saw that as a good job, I appreciated that with the mayors. And I didn’t want to determine at the start that I would do an award there,” says Polčák.

He specifies that he respects the law and that his fees do not deviate from the official rates that the lawyer can charge the client. On the contrary, Polčák went with her “significantly lower”. However, he would not confirm that it was two and a half percent of the compensation recovered.

“Please email me your questions,” Polčák replied when the News List asked for more information about his work for municipalities.

Later, Polčák sent a written statement stating that it was the mayors who first approached him with a request for help. He was persuaded to represent the municipalities. But what exactly has it done for the municipalities affected by the 2014 explosions, the evacuation and the many years of pyrotechnic cleaning of the area? The mayors obviously do not want to talk about it, and Polčák again refers to legal secrecy.

“I gave the mayors all the content of the court file, they got it in the archives. It’s a pile of documents. There were a lot of them, especially at the beginning. But again: it’s a low-key legal department, I can’t give away the case,” Polčák said.

The mayors announced cooperation with Polčák last Monday, April 19. They issued an appeal to the government to approve compensation for municipalities and limit Russian influence in the Czech Republic.

Just two days before that, on Saturday evening, then Prime Minister Andrei Babis (YES) announced the results of an investigation into the Vrbetice explosion, in which two gunmen died: Syria.

Why the government approved compensation

After two explosions at the Vrbětice ammunition depot in 2014, residents of the area had to evacuate for some time and some villages were denied access to much of their land for another six years, when the site has been cleaned. “People had to evacuate, we were afraid of it, people fled, they were afraid for their lives,” Zdeněk Hověžák described last year in the Senate, while watching at the time in Vlachovice, a village next to the warehouse. Other villages complained of dozens of hectares of forest destroyed by explosions and destruction of ammunition, as well as damaged roads.

The law has reserved approximately 309 million for the municipalities.

Residents also had the opportunity to get money from the state, and the state will distribute around 290 million to them according to initial estimates.

Polčák claims to have spent hundreds of hours with municipal legal departments since then. “And not just me. Colleagues in my office were focused on calculations, documents. I also had to pay these people,” Polčák explained.

Nothing more can be read in the explanatory memorandum of the law on the difficulty of obtaining compensation and its rules. The report gives only the exact amounts and a description that the authors of the law reached them – simply – by recalculating how much each municipality brings in taxes to the state budget.

“Mr. Polčák was supposed to help us provide compensation. And we got that in the form of the law. So we have to pay Mr. Polčák for legal services. Or more for lobbying? Because if we were lobbying , we would already be somewhere in Turkey – completely on the edge,” said Rumplík, an MP and lawyer from Slavičín.

In a written statement, Polčák said that he charges the remuneration not only for the creation of the law. However, he and his legal team also prepared an analysis of the possibilities of compensation, quantified the amount of the municipalities’ claims, including the justification (this information traveled to the three responsible ministries), and also developed a thesis on the way the law of compensation might sound. .

“For example, over more than a week, my colleagues and I did nothing but intensively calculate the demands of the municipalities and citizens for the invoice to be fair and legitimate in regional comparison. I then sent my documents to the ministries (especially the Interior Ministry, but also to some MPs) to convince them that the demands of municipalities and their citizens are legitimate,” Polčák said.

Very fast and exceptionally smooth

According to media records, there does not appear to be any acute friction around the law. In addition, the Ministry of the Interior had a law prepared in the past. “As far as I know, the law already existed in one form or another inside, and that’s why it came very quickly to the Chamber of Deputies,” confirmed former senator Gajdůšková.

Indeed: in June, the ministry presented the final version, and last July the law was approved by the Chamber of Deputies. And politicians from all parties agreed that people deserve compensation. After all, the law slid through the Chamber of Deputies and the Senate with unusual fluidity this summer – not a single MP or senator voted against it.

And this is another dimension of Polčák’s commitment.

Polčák, vice-president of STAN and MEP (with a salary of 175,000 per month and subsequent Brussels allowances in the tens of thousands), acted as a legal intermediary between municipalities and politicians in the compensation negotiations.

It also means among the mayors, deputies and senators of Polčák’s STAN movement, who, by raising their hands for the law without objection, also paved the way for Polčák for a multi-million reward. Or: Polčák advocated compensation through politicians he knew well and to whom he also had exclusive access.

When asked if he could help municipalities earn money for free when he was a politician paid with public money, Polčák did not answer directly: “I think it was just a unique situation that had to be used. But again, I go way beyond what I should comment on. I will refer you to the communities, because they are my clients. I’m not authorized to give you an opinion on this.”

Leave a Comment