Close ally of former Czech leader convicted of fraud

PRAGUE – A Czech appeals court has ruled that a close friend and adviser of former Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek is guilty of fraud and sentenced him to four years in prison.

A lower court in February gave Marek Dalik five years in prison. He was accused of asking for 18 million euros ($20.1 million) in 2007 at a meeting with managers from Steyr, an Austrian unit of U.S. General Dynamics Corp. In exchange, Dalik promised to use his influence to save a $1.3 billion deal for the company.

A previous government signed a deal with Steyr in 2006 to deliver armoured vehicles.

Topolanek’s government cancelled the deal in 2007, saying Steyr had breached the contract, but later signed a different deal.

In Tuesday’s final verdict, Prague’s High Court also fined Dalik.