Power Utility CEZ Investigated by Czech Anti-Corruption Police

February 18, 2013, Monday // 02:11
Bulgaria: Power Utility CEZ Investigated by Czech Anti-Corruption Police
Thousands protested against the electricity bills they got from Czech-owned utility CEZ in Bulgaria's Sofia on Sunday. Photo by Sofia Photo Agency

The Czech anti-corruption police are investigating 70% state-owned power company CEZ AS, which also owns the power utility with the same name in charge of electricity distribution in Western Bulgaria.

CEZ is being investigated regarding four transactions including the sale of a 50% stake in a German coal miner and other foreign investments, though no charges have been filed, a spokesman for CEZ said Monday, as cited by Dow Jones.

"Yes, it's true," Ladislav Kriz said, adding that within the past six weeks the police unit had requested information on specific transactions the company undertook.

These inquiries follow several similar requests for information the police made last year, Kriz said.

He added that the company has fully complied with all police requests and that he is not aware of any criminal charges.

A spokesman for the police anti-corruption and financial crime unit declined to comment.

The transactions the police are reviewing include CEZ's sale of its 50% stake in Germany's Mibrag to Czech closely-held financial group Energeticky a Prumyslovy Holding, or EPH. EPH is seen as a front-runner for the purchase of a power plant that CEZ is selling this year in a settlement with the European Commission over competition concerns.

The police are also reviewing transactions made by CEZ subsidiary Skoda Praha Invest for possible violations of public procurement laws; CEZ's investments in Albania; and its contracts for temporary storage of spent nuclear fuel at its Temelin nuclear power plant.

CEZ is currently facing severe criticism in Bulgaria as on Sunday its building was targeted by angry protesters in Sofia over high electricity bills.

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