Czech anti-corruption police probe former ČEZ boss

Czech police confirm that ex-ČEZ chief Martin Roman is part of a probe centered on Škoda Holding and the mysterious Appian Group

ČEZ’s Martin Roman declined to comment on what he called market speculation, but a well-placed source says a buy-out offer was made | na serveru Lidovky.cz | aktuální zprávy ČEZ’s Martin Roman declined to comment on what he called market speculation, but a well-placed source says a buy-out offer was made | foto: © ČEZČeská pozice
ČEZ’s Martin Roman declined to comment on what he called market speculation, but a well-placed source says a buy-out offer was made

The former head of Czech energy giant ČEZ, Martin Roman, is the subject of a police probe focusing on the circumstances by which his pre-ČEZ employer, engineering company Škoda Holding, was taken over by Appian Group, Czech police have confirmed.

“These things are being dealt with by the unit for uncovering corruption and the police’s financial crime division and investigators,” police presidium spokesman Jaroslav Lbehej told Czech Position in a written reply to questions. He said he could not give any further information at the current state of police proceedings.

‘These things are being dealt with by the unit for uncovering corruption and the police’s financial crime division and investigators.’

Reports in Czech papers Mladá fronta Dnes and Lidové Noviny, citing high-placed police sources in the anti-corruption division, said Roman (who resigned as ČEZ chief executive last week but will remain in his new position as head of the supervisory board) was already subject to a probe ahead of recent newspaper reports suggesting ongoing connections with the Plzeň engineering company after he took his new post at the top of ČEZ.

MF Dnes last week said it possessed documents showing Roman, and other top managers of the Škoda Holding, as beneficiaries of the engineering company and its new owners through two offshore trusts after he took up the top job with the state-controlled power company.

If proved, such links would represent a serious conflict of interest, with the engineering giant continuing to win lucrative orders from the power company during Roman’s seven-year reign at Prague-listed ČEZ.

Police were reportedly already aware of some of the released information but other information was new to them, the papers said. They were examining material related to Roman, but at this stage an official investigation had not yet been started, police added.

The Swiss connection 

Both Czech police and the newspapers appear to be sourcing information supplied by an ongoing Swiss investigation into the privatization of Škoda Plzeň, later Škoda Holding, by Czech coal company owner Appian Group.

Appian’s shadowy ownership involves many Swiss links. The Swiss investigation, which apparently prompted Czech Police to revive their 10-year long examination of the original sale, which sparked suspicions of  money laundering and misuse of mining funds from Appian-owned Mostecká uhelná společnost (MUS) that should have been destined for restoration of damaged land.

Appian later sold off various units of the engineering group at high profits with its remaining large asset,the transportation arm, spun off to a group of managers for an undisclosed last year.

Roman has insisted that he cut all links with Škoda Holding when he took up his new post with ČEZ in April 2004 and that anything suggesting otherwise is not true.