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 Jiravová.
“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 official.
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.”