Czech state-controlled electricity giant ČEZ announced on Wednesday that an internal audit into relations between its top managers and board members with power turbine supplier and maintenance company Škoda Power revealed no abuses.
The probe was called by the around 70 percent state-owned power company following media reports last year that long-time former ČEZ chief executive and current supervisory board chairman, Martin Roman, had maintained links with his former employer, Škoda Holding, after he switched to his new top job. Roman stepped down from his high-profile post in mid-September, while insisting he was not guilty of graft.
The new reports had sparked accusations that Roman was apparently in a clear conflict of interest situation as ČEZ gave Škoda Holding unit Škoda Power, earlier Škoda Plzeň, billions of crowns worth of contracts for new turbines and ongoing maintenance of power plants. A coalition of Czech NGOs involved in anti-corruption and transparency called for the government to sack Roman from his remaining ČEZ post.
‘The audit found no traces of informal relations which could be regarded as improper, unethical or corrupt, in the documented relations with Škoda Power.’“The relations between ČEZ and Škoda Power were set up according to standard and normal formal arrangements, including for example penalization [clauses] in agreements,” ČEZ announced. “The audit found no traces of informal relations which could be regarded as improper, unethical or corrupt, in the documented relations with Škoda Power.”
ČEZ said that the probe, demanded by the government, covered contracts concluded between February 2004 and September 2011, the seven year term of Roman at the peak of the power company.
The power company said it had examined 33 contracts signed by itself and another six by its 100-percent owned power plant projects company Škoda Praha Invest (ŠPI) with Škoda Power with the total value of the contracts adding up to Kč 26.4 billion, around 95 of the invoices to the firm so far paid by ČEZ.
ČEZ said decisions over key contracts agreed were fully in line with its strategic plans, relations with Škoda Power followed normal practices, contracts were awarded and signed in accordance with legislation in force and according to company guidelines. One of the few criticisms stemming from the report was the absence of dates on some ČEZ and ŠPI documents “which limited their conclusiveness,” according to the audit.
The large number of contracts heading to Škoda Power was the result of historic close relations between the power company and one of the main suppliers of turbines for its power plants, the audit said. It added that the volume of contracts allocated to the company was closely related to its overall capital investment program.