Bublan: BIS failed in the case of Bárta’s ABL

Ex-Interior Minister František Bublan says the state should have monitored ABL’s connection of business activities with politics

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The state intelligence agency Security Information Service (BIS) has not sufficiently monitored the activities of the private security agency ABL, claims František Bublan (Social Democrats, ČSSD), the current chairman of the parliamentary military-security committee and minister of interior from 2004–06.

“It is a serious neglect. Formerly, the BIS was interested in the operations of security agencies, yet it appears it has refrained from overseeing them. For some time, this was because of suspicions that private security agencies were established by former communist state security service members,” Bublan told Czech Position.

BIS spokesman Jan Šubrt denies that the service has failed. In an interview for Czech Position he said that the BIS has always acted within the intentions of the law and has informed the respective institutions of everything necessary.

Admitted corruption

The de facto leader of Public Affairs (VV) and ex-Transport Minister Vít Bárta was the founder of ABL, one of the largest security agencies in the Czech Republic, and since last year has been its owner. He systematically made use of his business for political objectives and vice versa. For the sake of his business and in order to maximize his influence, he monitored his clients and politicians and included the mention of the necessity of corrupt behavior in an internal document of his company. ‘Formerly, the BIS was interested in the operations of security agencies, yet it appears it has refrained from overseeing them.’

“We must admit how we behave – for example, we are doing the maximum to minimize tax burdens, we bribe, support nepotism,” Bárta’s stated as his vision for his agency in a Strategy 2009–2014 document cited by daily Mladá fronta Dnes. On Friday, Bárta resigned from his post as minister of transport owing to a corruption scandal, which has thrown virtually all detective and security agencies into an unenviable situation.

“It is difficult to determine who in particular is liable for the fact that a private security agency preserved information for its future political activity. Yet it is true that the right-wing parties did not want to deal with the operation of security agencies in a legislative manner,” Bublan told Czech Position.

Jiří Kameník, president of the Association of Private Security Agencies, has also been voiced complaints about there being a legislative vacuum.

“By adopting Act No. 155/2010, on reduction of the administrative burden of entrepreneurs, our officials have put an absolute ban on private security agencies. They actually do not exist in legal terms. Pursuant to the law, we are not worthy of being defined. Just tell me, can you imagine anything worse than the situation that has been caused by the state? Not even Vít Bárta is able to do anything worse,” Kameník said.

For 10 years, the security community has been asking for the adoption of a special law on security agencies. “It’s worse than under Hitler. He at least announced martial law,” Kameník said. With regard to the Bárta case, he said that in the Czech Republic every citizen is entitled to monitor another citizen. And unless the state regulates it by law, it cannot be surprised that the subjects on the market explain the matters at their own discretion.

Mortal danger

In the past, Bárta has admitted that ABL monitored Civic Democrat (ODS) politicians in Prague 11. However, in the opinion of a security service agent who does not want his name revealed, the problem is not the monitoring of persons itself. Much more serious is Bárta still having had available the ABL documents and database after he terminated his business activities and was appointed a minister. This was confirmed on April 7 when a material discrediting Jiří Paroubek appeared in public. ‘Can you imagine anything worse than the situation that has been caused by the state?’

How is it possible that the secret services and Prime Minister Petr Nečas (ODS) in particular have not been able to deduce from ABL’s practices that the businessman-politician Vít Bárta represents a mortal danger for the reformist government claiming the fight against corruption to be one of its major objective?

The fitting remark delivered by the agent quoted above provides one of the possible answers: If it is true that Petr Nečas strove to become prime minister and prepared for it for 20 years, then it stands to reason he would like to retain it for a while.