Court rules on H-system fraud
The Prague City Court on Thursday ruled on the biggest case of fraud in the country's history. The judge sent the founder of the bankrupt construction company H-system Petr Smetka to 12 years in prison for defrauding some 1,200 clients of 1.2 billion crowns - leaving them penniless and without a roof over their heads.
The evidence presented also revealed that the H-system construction company failed to inform its clients and shareholders about its outstanding credits at Komercni Banka - to the tune of several million crowns. Right from the outset people were thus investing their money into a heavily indebted company. Throughout the trial the company's founder Petr Smetka maintained that he was innocent of any wrongdoing and described the verdict as absurd:
All four men have appealed the verdict with the High Court and say they are prepared to go to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasburg if necessary - to defend their innocence. However legal experts predict that they don't stand much chance, given the weight of the evidence against them. If the High Court confirms this verdict -then apart from their jail sentences the four culprits will have to spend the rest of their lives paying back the embezzled funds. However none of those who crowded the courtroom really expect to see their money back. As one of them said - "the least I can hope for is to see them rot in jail".