Illustrative photo – The municipal court in Prague ruled on the case of missing Czech diesel in the Bavarian warehouse of Viktoriagruppe, April 28, 2022. The indictment claims that four employees of the company defrauded the state of 108 million crowns. From left, Lubomír Novotný, Jaroslav Slavík, Miroslav Holub.
Prague – The verdict in the Viktoriagruppe case and the missing Czech diesel fuel in the Bavarian warehouse does not apply. It was annulled by the Prague High Court, which returned the matter for further consideration. The spokesman of the Municipal Court in Prague, Adam Wenig, answered this question to ČTK today. The overturned verdict imposed a ten-year ban on the company and its executive Petr Malé from protecting the Czech state's material reserves. In addition, he sent Malé to prison for seven years for fraud and also gave him a fine of ten million.
“The judgment has been overturned in its entirety,” Wenig said.
The case is one of the chapters in the dispute over Czech strategic diesel stocks stored in Germany. The indictment claims that the bankrupt German Viktoriagruppe, Malý and other employees of the company Lubomír Novotný, Jaroslav Slavík and Miroslav Holub defrauded the State Material Reserves Administration (SSHR) of at least 108 million crowns. Last year, the Prague Municipal Court acquitted Slavík and Holub of the charges without jurisdiction, and found the other defendants guilty.
According to Wenig, the Supreme Court of Appeal found five different reasons why it overturned the verdict. He stated that the judgment was preceded by substantial procedural defects that could have affected the correctness and legality of the decision. According to the current resolution, Vady also had a sentence. The appeals panel also has doubts about the correctness of the court's findings of fact and, according to it, it is necessary to repeat the evidence or conduct another one to clarify the matter. In addition, according to the resolution, the judgment violated the provisions of the criminal law and the court also incorrectly ruled on the claim of the injured party.
The public prosecutor filed an appeal against all the defendants. The company, Malý and Novotný, who received a three-year suspended sentence, also appealed. The judgment was also contested by the injured SSHR, which the city court referred to civil proceedings with a claim for damages.
SSHR paid Viktoriagruppe a fee for the storage of diesel fuel in Krailling, Bavaria, the amount of which depended on the amount of fuel stored. Viktoriagruppe, on the other hand, was to pay a fine if it did not manage to store the agreed amount of diesel on time. According to the verdict, the company actually did not make it and decided to cover it up by fictitiously increasing diesel stocks with two false receipts sent to SSHR for reimbursement. In addition, from November 2012 to January 2013, the defendants allegedly removed three train sets of diesel, which SSHR did not reimburse.
Viktoriagruppe managers deny the blame. They argue that their actions were common practice. According to the indictment, however, they used their knowledge of SSHR's “weak spots” in the records of stored fuels. The public prosecutor also accuses the man of taking such steps so that SSHR employees in Bavaria did not discover that the diesel was missing. For example, they allegedly submitted a false table of data to the inspectors. The indictment also drew attention to the fact that the inspectors had to report in advance before arriving at the warehouse that the area is vast and the tanks are connected by underground pipes, which allows fuel to be pumped over and thus to manipulate the levels of their levels in the tanks.
When Viktoriagruppe ended up in insolvency in 2015, a legal battle began over the stored stocks. In the end, after negotiations with the bankruptcy administrator, the Czech Republic gradually managed to move the diesel back from Krailling. However, after the last tanker arrived from Germany, the measurement confirmed fears that some of the fuel was missing. SSHR lacked 6.3 million liters of fuel.