Ex-ČEZ boss Roman under fire over Škoda ties

ČEZ’s Martin Roman is under fresh pressure over new documents alleging to show decisive link with engineering giant he headed

Martin Roman stál v čele ČEZ od roku 2004. foto: © ČTKČeská pozice

Martin Roman stál v čele ČEZ od roku 2004.

Martin Roman, the former boss of Czech state-controlled electricity giant ČEZ, had a crucial say in how Plzeň engineering group Škoda Holding was managed even after leaving his post as company general manager for the top job in Czech industry, the Czech newspaper Mláda fronta Dnes reported Friday. At the same time, it published documents relating to Roman’s alleged control.

One of the key documents released outlines a four-way deal between Škoda Holding managers, including Roman, stipulating that no one should become general manager or chairman of the board of Škoda Holding without his permission and leaving the door open for Roman to return to the top of the company and occupy both positions if he left.

Management deal

The document, dated February 17, 2004, does not directly refer to Škoda Holding but instead mentions a “Company C,” but MF Dnes maintains the identity of the company is clear. A few days after the document was signed, Roman joined the ČEZ board and later, at the start of April, became general manager of the power company.

Roman, who stepped down a general manager of ČEZ in mid-September as the Czech paper released its first reports of his claimed Škoda Holding connection but remains head of its supervisory board, has always maintained that he had no ownership of Škoda Holding and cut all ties with the company once he took up his post at ČEZ.

During Roman’s more than seven-year reign as ČEZ boss, contracts worth hundreds of millions of crowns were signed with Škoda Holding for power plant turbines and other equipment with an ongoing link with the Plzeň company clearly representing a serious conflict of interest.

Roman told MF Dnes that he had agreed a pact with former colleagues that would allow him to return to Škoda Holding if he did not become ČEZ general manager, a position that was uncertain until the last minute. “That did not happened and this last agreement was ended,” he added. Roman has denied all ownership links with Škoda Holding and has suggested the documents cited by the Czech paper are forgeries.

A matter of trusts

Other documents released by MF Dnes on Friday gave more details of the offshore trusts through which, it claims, Roman and other former Škoda Holding managers hid their links with the engineering company and the holding’s shadowy owner, Appian Group. ‘If the information is confirmed, it would be impossible to conceive of him [Roman] staying at the head of the supervisory board.’

They also outline managers’ and ex-managers’ positions as the offshore trust beneficiaries with payments made amounting to millions of crowns.  The trust funds were located in the Cayman Islands, British Virgin Islands, and the British dependency tax haven, the Isle of Man.  

The fresh documents brought calls on Friday for Roman to step down from ČEZ’s supervisory board if MF Dnes’ information is proved to be correct. “If the information is confirmed, it would be impossible to conceive of him [Roman] staying at the head of the supervisory board,” Public Affairs (VV) Transport Minister Pavel Dobeš told the news server ihned.