ČEZ backs down over high-powered payments to ANO politician
Czech energy group ČEZ has an interesting publicity stunt in which it gives a statistic for the week. It’s usually some self-promotional stuff about the number of electricity pylons it has, donations to charity, or power plant output. This week’s statistic that sticks in the mind though came from outside: the 100,000 crowns a month that has been paid to a top ANO politician for not very specific advisory services.
The information was revealed by another member of the board, former deputy Finance Minister Lukáš Wagenknecht, in an e-mail to his colleagues, in which he was asking for all documents concerning the cooperation with Mrs Kleslová ahead of Thursday’s meeting of the body. Mr Wagenknecht, also told his colleagues that he was pressed by Mrs Kleslová not to investigate the matter any further.
According to the contract, the ANO deputy head was responsible for providing counselling services and submitting monthly reports on the government’s legislative agenda. The head of ČEZ’s supervisory board, Václav Pačes, told the news site Thursday that the company was not planning to extend the current contract with Mrs Kleslová, which is valid until the end of the year, on Mrs Kleslová’s own request. An investigation of what she precisely did for the money is expected.
Mrs Kleslová has been cooperating with the state power giant ČEZ for the past 15 years. She previously said she didn’t find her engagement with ČEZ controversial, because her office has had long term contract with the company and it did not in any way interfere with her post as mayor.
According to the news site Aktualne.cz, another two companies, Czech fuel distributor Čepro and the Czech state-owned train operator České dráhy have already suspended cooperation with Mrs Kleslová in the past. České dráhy have reportedly paid her 40,000 crowns a month for counselling. Čepro did not reveal its remuneration.
Radmila Kleslová, a former member of parliament for the Social Democrats, is known for her past cooperation with the communist-era secret police. She became a member of the ANO party at the start of 2014 and was elected the party’s deputy head at the party congress in February this year. She has been working as a lobbyist for finance minister Andrej Babiš and his Agrofert holding for several years now.