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Czech Deputy PM Cunek saved millions, but lived on welfare - CT

Prague, 29.10.2007 23:54, (CTK/ROMEA)

Jiri Cunek, Czech Deputy Prime Minister and Christian Democrat (KDU-CSL) leader, deposited 3.5 million crowns to bank accounts in 1998 when his family received social benefits from the state, the public Czech Television (CT) informed today in the Reporters programme.

Cunek dismissed the information. He refused to give any information about the case to CT.

"I won't provide any information on events before 1998. This is not important because I was not a politician then," he told CT.

Cunek had also been accused of accepting a 500,000-crown bribe from a private company when he was mayor of Vsetin, north Moravia, in 2002, but the investigation was stopped in August after several months due to faults and procedural defects.

According to CT, Cunek officially earned less than 20,000 crowns a month and his wife was on maternity leave in late 1990s. As they had four children, the family received social subsidies from the state.

In 1996-1999, the Cuneks got tens of thousands of crowns from state authorities, CT reported.

In 1998 they allegedly got 51,000 crowns from in benefits. But Cunek deposited 3.5 million crowns within two weeks to three bank accounts in Opava and Zlin, north Moravia, in the same year, CT said.

CT says if Cunek did not mention this money in the applications for state subsidies, he may have committed a crime. It also seems probable that Cunek did not tax the money, CT adds.

According to CT, Cunek presented in the banks his identity card that he had reported as lost some eighteen months before.

Cunek claims that his family savings had been 2.5 million crowns before he entered politics.

The opposition has been demanding Cunek's resignation as cabinet minister for some time.

Cunek became widely known in the autumn 2006 after he moved Romany rent-defaulters from Vsetin where he was mayor. The cause caused heated disputes among politicians and attracted media attention.

Within a few months, Cunek jumped from regional to top politics. In October 2006, he was elected senator and two months later he became KDU-CSL chairman. In January 2007, the KDU-CSL joined the coalition government of Mirek Topolanek (Civic Democrats, ODS) and Cunek was appointed Deputy PM and Local Development Minister.

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