Drobil to sue whistle-blower Michálek

Pavel Drobil will take legal action against the instigator of corruption charges that forced him to resign as environment minister

Pevný charakter Pavel Drobil (vlevo) a premiér Petr Nečas, který dá korupci na frak. Sejdou se znovu ve vládě? foto: © ČTKČeská pozice

Pevný charakter Pavel Drobil (vlevo) a premiér Petr Nečas, který dá korupci na frak. Sejdou se znovu ve vládě?

Civic Democrat (ODS) deputy chairman Pavel Drobil wants to 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, drawing on an article by the business daily Hospodarske noviny.

“We will complete it within two weeks,” Drobil, who is being represented by the prominent lawyer Tomáš Sokol, told the daily. The former minister intends to defend himself against allegations that he and his assistants at the ministry were involved in preparing a highly overpriced public order for the reconstruction of a Prague sewage water treatment plant.

Michálek, as director of the State Environmental Fund (SFŽP), provided secret recordings in which one of Drobil’s advisers is heard discussing a planned attempt to manipulate the fund’s public orders in order to secure money for ODS and Drobil’s own political career. He told Czech Television (ČT) that the order was to cost Kč 3 billion above the market price and that Kč 500 million was slated to go to ODS.

Drobil had dismissed Michálek as SFŽP director shortly before the scandal came to light, triggering his own resignation. Michálek had also recorded a meeting during which Drobil offered him the post of deputy minister — if he erased all evidence of the attempted manipulations.

Tomáš Chalupa (ODS), who replaced Drobil as environment minister, has said he would not reappoint Michálek to the post — Transport Minister Vít Bárta (Public Affairs, VV), however, has offered a post to Michálek, who wrote the ethics code for the VV before the 2010 elections. Michálek won the main prize of a new Czech anti-corruption endowment fund last week.

Drobil does not plan to challenge the secret recordings that Michálek handed over to the police and claims that Michálek has no evidence for his statement about the price of the water treatment plant reconstruction having been inflated, ČTK said. Michálek declined to comment on Drobil’s complaint as he had not yet seen it.

Drobil argues that neither the SFŽP nor the Environment Ministry has any power to influence the order for the Prague water treatment plant, pointing out that Prague City Hall — dominated by the ODS until last October — organizes the tender. The ODS–Social Democrat (ČSSD) coalition that has been running City Hall since the elections has decided to revise the tender; the TOP 09 party said the conditions of the current tender allows room for corruption.

The alleged manipulations at the SFŽP fund was the first big corruption scandal of the ODS-TOP 09-VV coalition government of Prime Minister Petr Nečas (ODS) formed last summer. Nečas had declared the fight against corruption one of its key tasks. Most Czechs consider the government struggle against corruption to be inefficient, a poll conducted last month shows.