WHERE ARE THEY
Jaroslav Lizner: Old wounds still hurt
Written by: Monika Mudranincová
Photo: Tomáš Kubeš
Jaroslav Lizner (52), the former
head of the Coupon Privatization Center and the Securities Center,
was arrested eight years ago with a briefcase full of money and
sentenced to six years in prison. To this day, the main actor in
the corruption affair insists on his innocence, and has decided
to clear his name in a new trial.
FOLLOWING A LENGTHY tenure as manager of the analysis department
of the Ministry of Finance, Lizner was entrusted with organizing
the processes of coupon privatization at the beginning of the 1990s.
However, on 31 October 1996, as head of the Coupon Privatization
Center and the Securities Center, he was arrested with over CZK
8 million he had received from businessman Luboš Sotona, who wanted
to buy a share in Klatovy Dairy. Lizner was sentenced to six years
in prison and fined CZK 1 million for misusing his power as a public
official. He was also fined for accepting bribes, based on Sotona's
testimony and the statement of his then common-law wife, Zuzana
"I never wanted a bribe from anybody," he argues indignantly.
"I just carried the briefcase to the next meeting. The money
was supposed to be assurance for CS Fondy that Mr. Sotona was a
trustworthy interested party." He chalks his arrest up to the
fact that he had repeatedly pointed out serious insufficiencies
in the Harvard Stock Exchange Company. "Somebody probably didn't
like my criticisms," he notes.
At the present time, Lizner is not allowed to work in the public
sector. He got a divorce during his stay in prison, but he now has
a two-year-old son with a different wife, and makes his living as
an administration director for a Prague construction firm. "To
be frank, I'm glad that I found somebody to give me a job. Many
people are afraid to even speak to me," laments the former
Lizner hopes that this unfavorable situation will soon change. In
June 2002, his attorney, Ivan Krutský, requested a reopening of
the trial from Prague 7 District Court, because new facts have been
discovered in the case. Why would someone who has already served
his time want to go through the analysis of a new trial? "Because
I want my criminal record wiped clean, and if I got back the one
million crown fine, that would be nice too," he explains. "Most
importantly though, I don't like it when someone wrongs me."