Czech Minister of Health Petr Arenberger is being accused of hiding millions in revenue on his tax returns.
The accusations come from TV Seznam who claims that he made millions of crowns for clinical studies of new drugs and illegally conducted these activities on a trade license and claimed it was for the purpose of cosmetic services.
Arenberger has worked as the director of the Královské Vinohrady Hospital as well as running clinical trials for pharmaceutical drugs for over a decade. As part of his trade license and as a public figure, he is required to disclose his income from business dealings to the public.
Arenberger has denied that his tax returns lack millions in revenue and says the clinical trials his private practice ran were extremely costly.
“Clinical trials are being carried out in my surgery, which would not be profitable in relation to the Royal Vinohrady University Hospital, because a very small number of subjects are always included in these clinical trials,” said Arenberger.
He went on to explain to ČTK the high costs associated with his clinical studies. “This activity has not only revenues but also quite high costs. Within these projects, co-workers, study coordinators, and many other things are paid for,” he said.
According to public records, Arenberger’s dermatology clinic has been operating since at least 2001 and their revenues have grown significantly in recent years.
“In those years, I did not generate a profit from this activity. Therefore, it could not appear in my property declaration,” the minister said.
Despite the accusations, Arenberger maintains that his business did not generate any profit and Prime Minister Babiš is asking for the matter to be cleared up.
Former Minister of Health and Arenberger’s predecessor, Roman Prymula commented on the situation despite facing criticism for similar activities on his own property declaration.
“This income must be proven in the property declaration. Similarly, clinical trials cannot be performed as cosmetic services. Clinical trials have a predetermined mechanism, which is based on the Act on Medicines, and must be provided as medical procedures,” Prymula clarified.
Former Health Minister Prymula was fired only months ago by Babiš for attending a football match during the government-mandated closures. Arenberger’s financial misconduct accusations only add to the poor perception the public has of Prime Minister Babiš’ administration.
The opposition Peoples Party chairman Marian Jurečka tweeted: “Doesn’t the Ministry of Health really deserve at least one minister a year?”
Prime Minister Babiš is asking Arenberger for clarification on the accuracies of these accusations regarding his tax statements.