František Mrázek

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František Mrázek
František Mrázek (02).jpg
Born February 1, 1958
Not known
Died January 25, 2006(2006-01-25) (aged 47)
Prague, Czech Republic
Cause of death Shot to heart by a sniper
Resting place Český Brod, Czech Republic
Nationality Czech
Citizenship Czech
Years active 1958—2006
Known for Alleged Godfather of the Czech Organized Crime
Mrázek's grave in Český Brod

František Mrázek (About this sound cs ) (1 February 1958 – 25 January 2006 in Prague) was a controversial Czech entrepreneur, often referred to as the "Godfather of Czech Organized Crime".[1] Mrázek covertly influenced Czech politics for almost twenty years.[1][2][3] In 2006 he was assassinated by a (still unknown) sniper. Most of the publicly available information about his criminal activities and contacts with the politicians leaked from police archives (which include wiretapping records and Mrázek's own collection of blackmail material) after his death. These sources suspect he was involved in over 30 murders.[4]

Communist Czechoslovakia[edit]

Mrázek set up a smuggling business during the communist era. He "dealt" in a variety of articles including wristwatches, Walkmans and textiles of Western origin, and even with gravestones from Czech Jewish cemeteries.[5] He was also involved in the criminal underground of the Kolín region as his name appeared in the circles of foreign currency speculators (Czech: veksláci). In 1986 Mrázek spent two months in custody and was subsequently sentenced to probation.[6] In February 1987, Mrázek consented to cooperating with the criminal investigation department of Czechoslovak police.[7] However, he himself was under surveillance by the Omega police team .[8]

Post-revolution[edit]

Following the Velvet Revolution of 1989 Mrázek at first focused on voucher privatization.[citation needed] Together with his business partners, he took the opportunity offered by the chaotic situation at the beginning of Czech economic transformation, and laundered the dirty money from the past.[9] He later focused his business activities on real estate. Obtaining loans from Czech banks, often through a third party, Mrázek specialized in the buying and reselling of realities. He dealt with buildings that were fraudulently overvalued, earning hundreds of millions in Czech currency. He established many similar companies[10] owned by so-called "white horses" (bogus owners, usually with Russian names).[1][11] He later transferred his assets to other firms in order to cover these fraudulent activities. The Czech police investigated his suspicions activities, however, their case was closed as inconclusive[12] as Mrázek was not legally involved in any of the firms.[11] From 1991 to 1994 František Mrázek managed to wring an astronomical amount of money from Czech banks - more than 1.14 billion Czech crowns.[13]

At the beginning of the 1990s, Mrázek, together with renowned Czech singer Karel Gott, established the foundation Interpo, dedicated to helping children of police officers killed in the line of duty.[1][14] Gott however withdrew from the collaboration when the foundation became suspected of dishonest financial transactions. Gott later stated that he "hadn't noticed Mrázek's connections with organized crime".[15]

Mrázek socialized with many controversial entrepreneurs such as Tomáš Pitr and Miroslav Provod, both later convicted for tax fraud. In 2000 the Czech public television broadcaster Česká televize aired a report on Mrázek and Provod containing information about their connections to the bankruptcy of the big Czech bank, IPB, as well as several small banks.[11] In January 2000 Mrázek joined developer Luděk Sekyra in an attempt to acquire major Czech construction company IPS.[16]

Influence on Czech politics[edit]

Mrázek, together with another entrepreneur Tomáš Pitr, was considered the head of the financial group which controlled large chemical conglomerate SETUZA and the oil company Český olej (Czech oil). This group attempted (not only in connection with SETUZA) to influence the discharge of the Czech government for its own benefit.[17] He was also involved in the case of "the resolution of the Russian debt", later called "the Czech fiddle of the century".[11][18] He helped to arrange meetings between Czech and Russian politicians in that case.[11] Russia owed the Czech Republic approximately 170 billion Czech crowns.[19] Former Czech Minister of Finance Ivo Svoboda negotiated the sale of the debt with Austrian entrepreneur Barak Alon and also with Mrázek.[19] The Czech government later signed an opaque contract with the corporation Falkon owned by Georgian entrepreneurs. Later, this corporation was also influenced by people connected with the former communist regime and former secret police department.[19] The Russian government rendered about 50 billion Czech crowns, however, after opaque financial and bank operations only 20 billion came to Prague.[19]

Mrázek's connections with Czech politics are documented on police wiretaps.[20] He was under surveillance by the Czech anti-corruption police team many times; the largest police operation oriented to his person was called Krakatice (Giant Squid),[21] established in 1999 to investigate relations between Czech politicians and groups of organized crime.[21] The case was closed in 2002 and information contained in it didn't help prove any allegations.[22] However, shortly before Czech Parliament elections in 2006 some information from a file concerning contacts between Mrázek's close collaborator Igor Šafranko and politician Vlastimil Tlustý (former Czech Minister of Finance) spread to the public.[22][23] Tlustý later stated that he wasn't involved in either corruption or organized crime, and he broke his contacts with negotiator Šafranko.[20]

František Mrázek was in long-term contact with Miroslav Šlouf, the chief-consultant of former Czech Prime Minister Miloš Zeman.[22] He also attempted to influence other Members of Czech Parliament including Ivan Langer, Minister of the Interior and Informatics of the Czech Republic.[21] Langer later stated that he wasn't working in connection with Mrázek, and he rejected all speculation as "nonsense".[21]

Mrázek was never accused or sentenced after 1989.

The building (center) in front of which František Mrázek was assassinated.

Assassination[edit]

An attempt to murder Mrázek occurred in 2002. He was wounded, but survived (and since then used an armoured car). Later, on the Czech television report "Na stopě", Mrázek offered a two-million Czech crown reward for information leading to the attacker.[24]

On 25 January 2006, František Mrázek was shot and killed by an unknown assailant in Durychova Street, Prague 4, in front of the seat of his firms and companies. Only one shot was used and Mrázek died almost immediately. The investigation into his death was postponed until December 2006 and remains unsolved. According to the police investigation, he was shot with a sniper rifle by a professional assassin; the assassination was carefully and professionally planned.[25]

Post-death[edit]

Jaroslav Kmenta, the chief-reporter of the Czech daily newspaper Mladá Fronta Dnes, published information on František Mrázek in three books. The reliability of his investigation was however questioned and on 21 November 2008 Kmenta stated: "...in agreement with the editor-in-chief, I published only absolutely verified information, derived from various sources".[3] The 2008 book Kmotr Kmenta (The Godfather Kmenta) by Přemysl Svora was published in response to the controversy.

The case of František Mrázek (Krakatice) wasn't investigated properly, even though three police chiefs and ministers were replaced in their posts.[26] It is entirely possible that police and investigators worked under immense pressure and were forced to stop the investigation.[26] According to Mladá Fronta Dnes the problem is that the file contains many names of prominent politicians of both leading parties in the Czech Republic: Civic Democratic Party and Czech Social Democratic Party.[26] Former Czech premier Mirek Topolánek stated on 15 September 2008 in the Czech newspaper Hospodářské noviny: "The police and secret services - at least a part of them - may have wanted to resolve this case, but they were silenced or intimidated."[26][27]

In February 2009 Karel Tichý, former elite detective of the Czech anti-corruption police, claimed that he wanted to speak publicly about the circumstances of alleged interconnection between organized crime and Czech politicians.[28] However, Ivan Langer, Czech Minister of the Interior and Informatics, manifested that he would refuse his request.[29] Tichý himself has been interrogated many times by the secret police since 1995.[29]

The case was definitively closed on 27 May 2009. Mrázek's murderer wasn't found.[30]

Mrázek's son Michal, who inherited father's wealth, publicly warned Czech politicians he has access to a hidden archive of compromising material collected by his father.[31]

Law against publishing wiretapping records[edit]

In February 2009 the Czech parliament amended criminal law with an explicit ban on publishing any account of police wiretapping, under penalty of a heavy fine and years of imprisonment. The law was criticised by the Czech media as an attempt by politicians to avoid future embarrassment akin to the Mrázek case.[32]

In popular culture[edit]

The Story of a Godfather (Czech: Příběh kmotra), a Czech film directed by Petr Nikolaev, is inspired by the story of František Mrázek. The movie premiered on 24 October 2013.[33]

Character Vratislav Milota inspired by Mrázek appeared in a film Gangster Ka.

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d "Kmotr Mrázek a jeho muži po roce 1989" (in Czech). idnes.cz. 11 November 2007. Retrieved 22 November 2008. 
  2. ^ Kmotr Mrázek II. (Krakatice), p. i (photographic supplement) (Czech)
  3. ^ a b "Kmenta: Mrázek ovlivňoval politiku možná víc než vláda" (in Czech). idnes.cz. 21 November 2008. Retrieved 22 November 2008. 
  4. ^ Jaroslav Spurný: Kmotrovo poslední sbohem, Respekt, 2009, No. 24, p. 12-13, 16-21. Among those suspected to be murdered are state attorney (investigation closed as an accident), police detective (suicide), local journalist and several Mrázek's associates. As of June 2009 no murder was resolved and police investigations were suspended.
  5. ^ Kmotr Mrázek, p. 38-40 (Czech)
  6. ^ Kmotr Mrázek, p. 30 (Czech)
  7. ^ Kmotr Mrázek, p. iii (photographic supplement) (Czech)
  8. ^ Kmotr Mrázek, p. 61 (Czech)
  9. ^ Kmotr Mrázek, p. 79 (Czech)
  10. ^ Kmotr Mrázek, p. xxvi-xxvii (photographic supplement) (Czech) The basic overview
  11. ^ a b c d e "Záhadný muž, který točí miliardami" (in Czech). idnes.cz. 10 February 2003. Retrieved 13 November 2008. 
  12. ^ Kmotr Mrázek - The first volume of the book deals with Mrázek´s activities in 80´s and 90´s
  13. ^ Kmotr Mrázek, p. 89 (Czech)
  14. ^ "Byl milý a humorný, říká Gott o mafiánovi Mrázkovi" (in Czech). zpravy.idnes.cz. Retrieved 13 November 2008. 
  15. ^ Kmotr Mrázek II. (Krakatice), p. xxi (photographic supplement) (Czech)
  16. ^ Jana Klímová, Krystyna Wanatowiczová, Podnikatel Sekyra: Role Mrázka v privatizaci IPS byla okrajová, iDNES, 9 October 2008 (interview with Luděk Sekyra)
  17. ^ "Annual Report of the Security Information Service (BIS) for 2006" (PDF). Security Information Service of Czech Republic. Retrieved 13 November 2008.  p. 4-5
  18. ^ Martinovičová, Martina (2 May 2005). "Podvod století jde k soudu. Ale kde je Barak Alon?" (in Czech). Retrieved 24 October 2015. 
  19. ^ a b c d "Respekt vyhrál v ruském dluhu" (in Czech). cs-magazin.com. November 2006. Retrieved 22 November 2008. 
  20. ^ a b "Tlustý byl napojen na zločiny kolem Mrázka, ukázaly odposlechy" (in Czech). idnes.cz. 17 September 2008. Retrieved 22 November 2008. 
  21. ^ a b c d "Ministr Langer: Vím, že jsem v Krakatici" (in Czech). týden.cz. Retrieved 22 November 2008. 
  22. ^ a b c "Policejní evergreen: Kdo díky Krakatici hýbe politikou?" (in Czech). aktuálně.cz. 20 March 2008. Retrieved 22 November 2008. 
  23. ^ "Nejlepší kámoš, říkával o Tlustém mafián Mrázek" (in Czech). idnes.cz. 8 November 2007. Retrieved 22 November 2008. 
  24. ^ "František Mrázek zastřelen" (in Czech). zvedavec. 26 January 2006. Retrieved 22 November 2008. 
  25. ^ "V Praze byl zastřelen kontroverzní podnikatel František Mrázek" (in Czech). Czech Radio 1. 26 January 2006. Retrieved 23 November 2008. 
  26. ^ a b c d "Tři ministři a tři policejní šéfové nechali Krakatici raději spát" (in Czech). idnes.cz. 12 November 2008. Retrieved 23 November 2008. 
  27. ^ "Czech PM dissociates himself from Klaus's comment on Morava case". České noviny. 15 September 2008. Retrieved 23 November 2008. 
  28. ^ "Detektiv chce vypovídat o Mrázkovi a Krakatici" (in Czech). novinky.cz. 24 February 2009. Retrieved 8 January 2009. 
  29. ^ a b "Politici a mafiáni měli k sobě velmi blízko, říká autor Krakatice" (in Czech). novinky.cz. 3 March 2009. Retrieved 8 January 2009. 
  30. ^ "Uzavřeno. Mrázkova vraha už policie hledat nebude". Týden.cz. Retrieved 2009-06-03. 
  31. ^ October 2008 interview with Michal Mrázek: [1].
  32. ^ Informational website set up by the Czech media against the new law, in Czech and English. Retrieved on July 2009.
  33. ^ "VIDEO: Filmový Příběh kmotra zaplete do Mrázkova případu i novinářku". Mladá fronta DNES (in Czech). iDNES.cz. 3 September 2013. Retrieved 3 September 2013. 

References[edit]

  • Kmenta, Jaroslav (2007). Kmotr Mrázek (in Czech). Prague: Nakadatelství JKM - Jaroslav Kmenta. ISBN 978-80-903603-1-0. 
  • Kmenta, Jaroslav (2008). Kmotr Mrázek II. (Krakatice) (in Czech). Prague: Nakladatelství JKM - Jaroslav Kmenta. ISBN 978-80-903603-2-7. 
  • Kmenta, Jaroslav (2009). Kmotr Mrázek III. (Válka kmotrů) (in Czech). Prague: Nakladatelství JKM - Jaroslav Kmenta. ISBN 978-80-903603-3-4.  The trilogy tells the story of Mrázek and is mostly based on leaked police sources.
  • Svora, Přemysl (2008). Kmotr Kmenta (in Czech). Prague: Press Praha. ISBN 978-80-902788-1-3.  Unlike Kmenta's books this publication contains only uncommented police records about Mrázek.

External links[edit]