METRO Rail Transit (MRT) General Manager Al Vitangcol on Wednesday said he will file charges against Czech Ambassador to the Philippines Josef Rychtar for linking him to a $30-million extort try on a Czech company interested in supplying additional train coaches for the MRT.
Vitangcol added that his lawyers are studying possible charges against Rychtar whom he claimed has spread false testimony after the Czech diplomat accused him of sending an emissary to extort $30 million from Czech train car builder Inekon Group in exchange for the awarding of the expansion project. The 48-train project was eventually awarded to CNR Dalian Locomotive & Rolling Stock Co. Ltd. of China.
“My lawyers are still studying the charges to be filed against the Czech ambassador. They are finalizing the papers and will file [them]as soon as possible,” Vitangcol told reporters during a news briefing at the weekly Fernandina media forum in Greenhills, San Juan City, Metro Manila.
The MRT chief said the Czech ambassador should have been more responsible with his statements and should have verified the identity of the alleged emissary with him.
Vitangcol added that Rychtar’s statements are “hearsay and highly speculative.”
“Mr. [Manolo] Maralit [a Filipino consultant]came to me informing that Mr. Vitangcol wants to continue the discussion about the procedures of the deal. I offered that they can continue the talks in my residence. Mr. Vitangcol did not participate in this meeting. I was not part of the discussion which was held between Mr. [Josef] Husek on one side and Mr. [Wilson] de Vera on the other side,” he quoted Rychtar as saying in his unsigned statement. Husek is the director-general of Inekon Group and de Vera is said to be a Filipino businessman.
The MRT chief said it was clear that Rychtar’s statement speaks for itself and therefore the ambassador was not there when a certain Mr. de Vera and Mr. Husek allegedly met for the “illegal transaction.”
“Eh wala pala siya doon, so ibig sabihin [The ambassador was not there, therefore] the statement of the ambassador is mere hearsay [and that he has no personal knowledge that somebody was asking money from]Mr. Husek. The ambassador’s statements are all highly speculative,” Vitangcol added.
“Everything is hearsay. [You can see the] discrepancy but the question [is why]Mr. Rychtar [mentions only my name]during interviews. Mr. de Vera mentioned a certain Mr. Yorgos Psinakis [but this is not shown in the statement of]Mr. Rychtar and Mr. Maralit did not mention both of them,” the MRT chief said.
On the alleged extortion issue, Vitangcol clarified that he was not present when the alleged extortion try took place.
“I have not authorized nor directed anybody to talk to the Ambassador on my behalf. I do not personally know any of the persons that were allegedly involved. I knew them only on a professional basis,” he said.
Vitangcol noted that the Inekon Group does not hold “intellectual property rights” over MRT3 trains.
“The Inekon group has no intellectual property rights because the transportation system was sold to Siemens AG and CKD Holding, along with the CKD brand, was sold to 11 FITE,” he explained.
“We do not know why the Inekon Group was saying [it has]the right to supply the additional trains for the MRT3 [It’s like we’re saying since the original supplier was from the] Czech Republic, [we should again buy from the]Czech Republic,” Vitangcol said.
The MRT chief added that the Inekon Group’s proposal was to supply 52 LRVs [Light Rail Vehicles] at a total cost of $174,460,000 (or a unit cost of $3,355,000) through a government-to-government deal, which was submitted on July 12, 2012 with validity until October 31, 2012.
He expressed willlingness to appear before the Senate to tell all on what he knows about the MRT3 project.