There was at least one person in the management of the Energy Regulatory Office who looked after the interests of suppliers instead of the comfort of customers. The Supreme Administrative Court decided on this with finality, Aktuálně.cz has its judgment at its disposal. The person in question was Vladimír Vlk. Due to his failure, he was dismissed by the government of Andrej Babiš after a warning from the BIS. Vlk defended himself against this with a lawsuit, but lost the dispute.
By law, the Energy Regulatory Office supervises the price level of electricity or gas, protects the interests of consumers or grants licenses for energy production. But three members of its management acted against these principles, and the then government of Andrej Babiš therefore dismissed them in the summer of 2019. She received information about this from the Security Information Service.
One of those dismissed was Vladimír Vlk. When he quit after the intervention of Babiš’s cabinet, he had been in charge of the institution for two years. He sued the government for his forced departure. He claimed that he had not committed anything inadmissible in his position. At the same time, he questioned the veracity of the information from the BIS, and according to him, the cabinet did not receive the complete information from the counterintelligence.
As Aktuálně.cz pointed out this spring, the Municipal Court in Prague rejected Vlk’s lawsuit. According to the instance, BIS’s findings clearly demonstrated unacceptable interconnections with energy suppliers. Vlk wanted to overturn this judgment with a cassation appeal, but the Supreme Administrative Court did not comply with it. He decided so last week. The case is materially closed.
A plastic image about the threat to independence
“The classified information creates a plastic, long-term and comprehensive picture of what activities the complainant developed and what contacts he maintained in connection with his membership in the Council of the Energy Regulatory Office (ERÚ), and how he thereby threatened the independence of the ERÚ and the key tasks of the ERÚ, i.e. protecting the interests customers and consumers in the energy sector,” reads the judgment, which is available to Aktuálně.cz.
All three members of the panel of judge Zdenek Kühn became familiar with the secret information from the BIS. Although the judgment does not specify their specific form, according to information from Aktuálně.cz, Vlk has violated the principles of the Energy Authority’s mission at least twice. He had PR done in the media by one of the suppliers. In turn, he purposefully prevented his officials from inspecting the Ostravská teplárenská.
Former member of the management of the Energy Regulatory Office Vladimír Vlk. | Photo: CTK
“The classified information describes what instructions the complainant received in the field of electricity regulation from the same regulated entity and how he further acted in connection with these instructions,” states the verdict of the Supreme Administrative Court on the connection between Vlk and Ostrava teplárenská. It follows from the verdict that the government intervened against Vlk rightly after the warning.
Judge Kühn’s Senate confirmed the mentioned verdict of the Prague municipal instance from this spring. It is true that BIS had to supplement its findings during the court proceedings. “The factual circumstances described in the BIS documents are of such a nature that impermissibly close links to certain regulated entities can indeed be found in them,” the municipal court said in the judgment.
He was also previously convicted of a crime
“For me, the recall was shocking, because I had no idea or expected that someone would recall me. I didn’t do anything, I have a clear conscience,” Vlk responded to the Babiš government’s decision. He was appointed to the board of the Energy Regulatory Office in mid-2017 by the government of Bohuslav Sobotka (ČSSD). Vlk was a long-time member of this party.
The current verdict for Vlk basically means the end of the dispute. He can still file a complaint with the Constitutional Court, but it will not deal with the merits of the case. He would just check whether the lower courts did not violate Vlk’s right to a fair trial. It is not clear whether he will appeal to the Constitutional Court. His lawyer Petr Petržílek did not respond to the editor’s question.
Vladimír Vlk previously sat on the CEZ Supervisory Board, worked as an advisor at the Ministry of Industry and Trade and also worked in the Department of the Environment. He also provided external services to the Ministry of the Interior. The wolf also committed a crime. In 2014, the District Court in Litoměřice found him guilty of damaging a creditor, depriving him of more than two million crowns.