The Czech National Bank (ČNB) has revoked the licences of three currency
exchange offices in central Prague for violating new obligations stipulated
under the Foreign Exchange Act. It is the first time the Czech central bank
has taken such action.
The exchange offices in question are operated by PEMEX change, Exclusive Change, and CHIVAS INVEST. Apart from revoking the licences, the ČNB also imposed fines ranging from 2 million to 3 million crowns on the companies.
The Prague City Council has promised to shut dishonest exchange offices that advertise “zero commission” rates targeting foreign visitors to the Czech capital. In reality, the rates are around 16 crowns to the euro while the official exchange rate set by the ČNB is over 25 crowns per euro.
Two such Chequepoint outlets were closed in November 2018. Prague City councillors said this January they were looking at around two dozen other problematic currency exchange offices which may follow suit.
Exchange offices set their rates independently of the official exchange rates announced by the ČNB. The Foreign Exchange Act allows customers up to three hours to cancel a currency exchange transaction they find to be highly disadvantageous and get their money back.
Inspections by ČNB staff revealed PEMEX change, Exclusive Change, and CHIVAS INVEST posted confusing information on specific, so-called VIP rates, which is expressly prohibited by law. Their exchange rate lists also did state as required by law their customers’ right to cancel the transaction within three hours.
Foreign Minister of Ukraine Vadym Prystaiko has called on the Czech
Parliament to recognize the Holodomor – a man-made starvation of Soviet
Ukraine in the 1930s that killed millions of people – as an act of
Prystaiko’s call, which he announced on Twitter, came following a working visit to the Czech Republic on Tuesday, for the first session of the Ukrainian-Czech Forum, opened by the Czech foreign minister Tomáš Petřiček (Social Democrats).
The Holodomor was part of the wider Soviet famine of 1932–33, which affected the major grain-producing areas of the country. Since 2006, it has been recognized by Ukraine and 15 other countries as a genocide carried out by the Soviet government under Stalin.
In a related development, foreign ministers Petřiček and Prystaiko on Tuesday signed a memorandum on the collaboration of the Czech and Ukrainian national historical archives.
Czech News Agency (ČTK) photojournalist Roman Vondrouš has been honoured
for his series of photos from the world of competitive horse racing.
The international sports press association, known by its French acronym AIPS, presented the award to Vondrouš in Budapest earlier this week.
The Czech photojournalist was among 27 sports photographers rewarded in eight categories, in a competition that considered a total of 1754 works received from 125 countries.
Apart from awards for sports photography, he has also won Czech Press Photo awards in Lifestyle and Daily Life categories, in the years 2018 and 2015, respectively.
Czech Senate party and caucus leaders expect to begin talks on Wednesday
towards naming a possible successor to the late Senate chairman and speaker
The reported favourites are Miloš Vystrčil (Civic Democrats) and Jiří Růžička (Party of Mayors and Independents). Their respective parties currently represent the strongest groupings in the upper chamber of the Czech parliament.
However, Vystrčil will likely gain support from senators in the Prime Minister's ANO party as well as from the Christian Democratic Party during the vote scheduled for February 19.
Jaroslav Kubera died on January 20 at the age of 72 of heart failure. The Civil Democrat politician was elected to the Senate in 2000 and named speaker of the upper-house in 2018. He was also the mayor of Teplice for over 20 years.
The Czech Republic is taking the European Commission to the European Court
of Justice over the freezing of subsidies to Agrofert Holding, Deník N
reported. The government approved the lawsuit proposed by the minister of
agriculture, Miroslav Toman, on Monday, the news site said.
The subsidies were halted over the possible conflict of interest of Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babiš, who founded Agrofert. He put the huge company in trust funds but European Commission audits said that he still had control over it.
The deadline for filing the action will expire next Monday, 10 February. The government wants to take the matter to court despite the fact that last week representatives of the European Commission reportedly said during talks with Czech officials that it would eventually reimburse all Agrofert companies’ projects except one costing CZK 1.6 million.
Responding to this, a Ministry of Agriculture spokesperson said it was taking the matter to court as a matter of principle.
The Czech Republic is to purchase CZK 5 million in medical supplies to help
China combat the coronavirus emergency, the minister of foreign affairs,
Tomáš Petříček, told reporters. He said that acquiring the materials
from Czech companies would not threaten the availability of such medical
aids on the Czech market. Another CZK 5 million in financial assistance
will be donated to the World Health Organisation to help fund its efforts
to keep the coronavirus under control.
The Czech prime minister, Andrej Babiš, had earlier said that the country would only help China financially and was not in a position to send medical supplies.
Former transport minister Vladimír Kremlík has filed a criminal complaint
over an alleged offer he received of a CZK 1.5 million bribe in connection
with a contract to audit a motorway vignette system. Mr. Kremlík says the
attempted kickback came from lawyer Martin Janoušek, who was representing
the company that won the contract. For his part, Mr. Janoušek denies the
allegation and is suing the ex-minister for defamation.
Meanwhile, Pirate Party MP Lukáš Černohorský says he has also filed a criminal complaint in connection with the matter. He says that if Mr. Kremlík, Prime Minister Andrej Babiš and the director of the BIS counterintelligence service knew about the offer but did not tell the police they may be guilty of not reporting a felony.
Mr. Kremlík said on Monday that he had contacted BIS in mid-January, while he was still a cabinet member, in connection with the alleged bribe.
Some 70 percent of the people who took part in last year’s Prague
Marathon suffered heart damage while one-quarter sustained damage to their
livers, suggests a study by Prague’s Institute for Clinical and
Experimental Medicine published on Tuesday. Most of those problems were
temporary, the study’s authors said.
The doctors said that amateur runners are frequently unprepared for the marathon and could therefore seriously damage their health. Frequent problems include dehydration, some runners collapse after they reach the finish line and dangerous overheating can occur, they added.
State attorney Jaroslav Šaroch has halted the prosecution of Andrej Babiš
Jr., the son of the Czech prime minister, in connection with a case of
alleged misuse of EU subsidies. A spokesperson for the Prague state
attorney’s office said the decision was made in line with the shelving of
the main part of the case on the grounds that it did not constitute a
The PM’s son’s case was hived off from the main case last spring.
Mr. Šaroch halted the prosecution of Prime Minister Babiš and a number of others in August. However, the supreme state attorney, Pavel Zeman, said in December that the investigation of Mr. Babiš and a one-time advisor would continue.
The matter centres on the Stork’s Nest complex near Prague, for which CZK 50 million was received in EU subsidies. Mr. Babiš and family members were accused of manipulating the facility’s ownership to win the grants, a charge he has consistently denied.