The former State Environment Fund (SFŽP) head Libor Michálek had told police of a suspicious tender involving bidders KPMG and Mott MacDonald before the corruption scandal at the Environment Ministry came to light last week.
Former State Environmental Fund (SFŽP) chief Libor Michálek has revealed to Czech Position in an exclusive interview the mechanisms by which an adviser to Pavel Drobil (Civic Democrats, ODS) — the former Environment Minister who resigned over allegations of corruption — wanted to divert funds to advance Drobil’s career.
Czech Police have charged Martin Knetig, a former advisor to ex-Environment Minister Pavel Drobil, for “indirect bribery” for allegedly seeking kickbacks for a secret Civic Democrats (ODS) slush fund and to his old boss. Police documents purport to show that in October 2010 Knetig tried to get a member of Komerční banka’s board of directors to sponsor the ODS in exchange for depositing Kč 20 bln of state funds.
PM Petr Nečas (Civic Democrat, ODS) made a critical mistake by not immediately firing Environment Minister Pavel Drobil after evidence surfaced that the now ex-minister had tried to cover up a trail of corruption. By waiting for his fellow ODS party member to resign, Nečas has undermined his assumed role of champion against corruption.
While a plurality of people asked by Czech position approved the choice of Tomáš Chalupa (Civic Democrats, ODS) as minister of the environment, an equal number were not sure how to answer. The minority who opposed the choice, however, seemed to feel the most strongly, saying Chalupa lacks the proper background to do the job and is saddled with conflicts of interest.
According to ousted State Environment Fund (SFŽP) head Libor Michálek, before he could be appointed to the post by then-Environment Minister Pavel Drobil, he had to be approved by businessman Daneš Zátorský, an ODS ‘godfather’ in North Moravia. Zátorský claims his relationship with Drobil is ‘purely social’ but Czech media speculate there is more to it.
Former head of the State Environmental Fund (SFŽP) Libor Michálek was awarded Kč 500,000 on Wednesday by a newly-founded anti-corruption fund for his exposure of corruption in the Environment Ministry. The other award winner was Ondřej Závodský, a blind lawyer who blew the whistle on the misuse of funds in the Interior Ministry.
Within days the EU Commission is to send a letter to Prague explaining why it is suspending funding for two operational projects in the Czech Republic in the areas of environment and regional development. Funding for business development and innovation, transport, and education is also in the balance.
With the nomination of Tomáš Chalupa (Civic Democrats, ODS), once again the principle that the Environment Minister should be at least marginally sensitive to environmental issues has been discarded. And while he may not be as inclined to favor industry over environment as his predecessor, Chalupa is a blank slate in terms of environmental experience.
A Czech Position poll of top managers shows that more than half think that PM Petr Nečas (Civic Democrats, ODS) mishandled the “Drobil affair.” Even many polled who are slightly more forgiving of his actions in the wake of the alleged corruption scandal think Nečas should have acted much faster. Respondents are divided over whether it will be swept under the carpet or cause irreparable damage to the ODS.
The Czech politicians and authorities have systematically failed to address serious allegations of corruption, Supreme Audit Office (NKÚ) vice president Miloslav Kala said in an interview. The solution is not to further analyze the situation but rather to implement anti-corruption policies long under discussion — including extending the NKÚ’s powers, he says.
Three of the Czech Republic’s richest companies are lined up to get hundreds of millions of crowns in support to cut atmospheric pollution. Meanwhile, minimal amounts of direct aid has been offered to households in the smog-struck east of the country to buy less noxious coal-fired stoves and boilers. It was a coincidence that details of the take up of the programs came through at the same time.
The Registration Court in Prague has refused to register the Anti-Corruption Endowment Fund established by financier Karel Janeček as it would not be “publicly beneficial.” Janeček, who wants to support whistleblowers exposing corruption in public administration, says he will file a revised application; his lawyer says the court’s decision has tarnished the image of the Czech legal system.
Civic Democrat (ODS) deputy chairman Pavel Drobil says he will sue or file a criminal complaint against Libor Michálek, the instigator of the corruption charges that forced him to resign as environment minister in December 2010, the Czech news Agency (ČTK) reports.
The Czech constitution calls for competing political parties within a democratic framework, but the parties often forget the voters’ right to choose and that past success is no guarantee for the future. The Civic Democrats (ODS) have failed to heed increasing voter disillusionment and are ready to roll out a bland, empty election campaign for the fall Senate and regional elections. For this they will be punished, warns Bohumíl Studýnka.
Libor Michálek, the top Ministry of Environment official who blew the whistle on corruption and was sacked as a result, has been offered a post in the government's newly-created anti-corruption unit.
Many Czechs who waited to apply for the Green Light for Savings program, the Environment Ministry’s plan to subsidize environmentally friendly heating in homes, have yet to benefit from the program. But a new round of carbon credit sales should pump much-needed cash into the system.
Prague’s new Mayor Bohuslav Svoboda, who has vowed to stamp out corruption in the city’s administration, has rejected claims that a tender for the renovation of Prague’s waste water treatment plant has been rigged in favor of a specific company. Nevertheless, the conditions of the tender appear to at least favor larger companies.
A new scandal has arisen in the ODS-led government. This time, details of secret recordings published by daily Mladá fronta Dnes implicate the Ministry of the Environment. A financial adviser to Minister Pavel Drobil allegedly put pressure on the director of the State Environmental Fund (SFŽP) to manipulate a government tender.
Czech Position has obtained the minutes from a meeting between representatives of the European Commission and two Czech ministries. Brussels has set nine tasks for the country to fulfill; otherwise EU funds will be withheld. The conditions include providing EU officials with information from the police investigation into EU fund misuse by the suspended head of the council for the Northwest region.