Quatro R.I.S.K. did not commit a crime and Tatra will have some explaining to do. Who's really negotiating billion-crown deals?

Quatro R.I.S.K. did not commit a crime and Tatra will have some explaining to do. Who's really negotiating billion-crown deals?
Autor fotografie: redakce|Popisek: Hearing in Ostrava
26 / 06 / 2024, 13:15

The criminal chamber of the Regional Court in Ostrava heard serious information concerning foreign trade in military material by Tatra Export of the Czechoslovak Group.

Yesterday, the Regional Court in Ostrava concluded the last round of the six-year-long criminal proceedings in which the company QUATRO R.I.S.K. s.r.o. and its managing director Karel Kraus are accused. The criminal complaint was filed by Tatra Trucks and concerned alleged foreign trade in military material, which was supposed to be brake valves imported by the defendant company from China and re-exported from the Czech Republic to the United Arab Emirates as spare parts for Tatra T815 LIWA trucks, which were originally used by the local army. The defendant argued that it was not military material and supported this assertion with the unequivocal opinion of an expert from the University of Defence. However, the Court found that it was military material, but there were circumstances which rather suggested that it was a minor offence, taking into account the social danger and other facts.

Tatra T1815 LIWA

The public prosecutor considers Tatra Export's actions to be an incentive for proceedings before the licensing administration

Irrespective of whether the prosecutor does not withdraw the complaint and the case is heard by the High Court in Olomouc, and irrespective of the outcome of this case, once again, quite crucial information concerning foreign trade in military material by some defence industry companies has been brought before the court. The serious findings are not new, but only now, in the specific case of Tatra Export, the public prosecutor has reacted to them by stating that he will file a complaint with the licensing administration regarding the actions of this company. The Licensing Administration should investigate the legality of Tatra Export's activities in trading military material. The defence lawyer of QUATRO R.I.S.K. s.r.o. and its managing director, JUDr. Radek Ondruš, explained in a few sentences how serious the problem is:

"This company does not have even one employee. The two people who act on behalf of the company have no employment or other relationship with the company, nor do they have a contract for an executive. The public prosecutor's office has been aware of this fact since the beginning of the criminal proceedings, that is, since at least 2019–2020, when we began to draw attention to it. If they are taking it further only now, it is too late," he said in response to the prosecutor's words that he did not know about the problem earlier. "This should have been advanced long ago. At least in relation to the NSA, at least the law enforcement authorities should have intervened, because if this is how deals with military material are carried out in such a turnover, when the company outwardly has no employees, and in reality has a turnover of hundreds of millions of euros, and they will state in court as witnesses that they only signed documents, then in reality someone negotiated those deals, someone prepared them, someone carried them out, and it certainly wasn't those two," Ondruš continued.

State prosecutor Radim Sobek told Novinky.cz that he only learned this information during the criminal proceedings, and that he has already filed a complaint which should be dealt with by the Licensing Administration of the Ministry of Industry and Trade. It should assess whether this is a legal situation.

If the prosecutor does indeed turn to the Licensing Administration, which is a body of the Ministry of Industry and Trade and which grants permits for foreign trade in military material, the permit can theoretically be revoked from Tatra Export on the basis of Article 13(1)(c) of Act 38/1994 Coll., by a decision of the Ministry if 1) the permit was granted on the basis of incorrect or incomplete data, or 2) the legal or natural person no longer meets the prerequisites for granting the permit. At the same time, the Licensing Administration/Ministry may directly contact the NSA to verify that Tatra Export actually meets these prerequisites. The basic issue here is compliance with the requirement of Section 7(1)(c) which states that "trade in military material shall be carried out by a legal person in its own name and on its own account."

JUDr. Ondruš: "Failure of the MIT, intelligence services and law enforcement authorities"

"In the Czech Republic, billion-crown deals with military material are being made by someone who does not have a permit for this activity, and we do not even know who. There is some kind of concessionary or mandate contract that allows for another sub-contract, so in reality it could be done by foreign entities, and we as the Czech Republic do not know who is actually negotiating these deals. The two (people acting on behalf of Tatra Export, ed.), as they admitted to us here in court, are certainly not. There are many such set-ups in the system of companies trading in military material, and I see a clear failure on the part of the Ministry of Industry and Trade, the intelligence services and the law enforcement authorities. Because there is a situation where non-existent or legal husks are carrying out billion-dollar deals with military material," Ondruš told reporters, adding that if the prosecutor's office does not act, it will be the first to initiate the case.

Advocate JUDr. Ondruš and Karel Kraus

According to the court, brake valves are military material. The case should be closed by the MIT

The managing director of QUATRO R.I.S.K., Karel Kraus, also commented on the pending case for Security Magazin, saying that the police investigated the matter until last spring and that if the accused party did not provide them with witnesses who would clarify what was going on, "they would know nothing because the witnesses they called from Tatra have no idea about the matter." According to Ondruš, the outcome of today's meeting is the maximum possible compromise: "The matter will be resolved further at the level of the ministry. We insist that the assessment of the technical aspect is a technical issue, because there must be technical and design exceptionality in spare parts. This is not a legal issue. The courts have repeatedly concluded that the assessment of the nature of the goods is crucial and we agree on this. We shall see where the prosecutor stands on this."

"This case is a classic abuse of criminal law by a business competitor, because the criminal proceedings were initiated on the basis of a written denunciation whose primary motive was an effort to destroy a competitor," Novinky.cz quoted Radek Ondruš, and added a short statement by Tatra Trucks: "Tatra Trucks will not comment on this criminal case, its progress or the defendant's arguments at this time."

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