ABL, the security firm founded by outgoing Transport Minister Vít Bárta, obtained records of over 6,232 calls to and from the phone of Daniel Rous, the head of security at the state-controlled power utility ČEZ, the daily Mladá fronta dnes (MfD) reported Thursday. It said the call records, which include records of location and identity of callers, were acquired by ABL at a time when ČEZ was preparing a tender for provision of security services worth Kč 632 million.
The report comes less than a week after MfD published a recording of Bárta, the de facto head and paymaster of the junior coaliton Public Affairs (VV) party, telling ABL managers in May 2007 that the firm needs “to infiltrate into the space” of potential large clients. That, along with allegations of “cash for loyalty” payments by Bárta to fellow VV members, prompted him to tender his resignation last week although he will still vie for the party leadership in May.
The recordings of Rous’ calls are from October 2009 until January 20, 2010, during which time Bárta was still the owner and boss of ABL, which apart from providing security services is a also a detective agency. Bárta sold the firm to his brother, Matěj, upon his appointment as transport minister.
ABL and Securitas
Securitas, the largest security firm in the Czech Republic, won the tender to protect ČEZ buildings and property, though ABL is a subcontractor providing manpower. “We hire people from ABL, and train and manage them. They work in our uniforms. It’s more advantageous than to hire completely new people,” Securitas boss Michal Kuník told MfD.
According to Mfd and Daniel Rous, a former employee of the state counter espionage and intelligence agency BIS, say that the call records were either obtained from the police, or the operator O2. Rous told Mfd that if the Czech Telecommunications Office and the police don’t take action, he will launch legal proceedings himself.
He also confirmed that he knows Bárta personally: “[It’s] a big disappointment for me personally. I had very firm relations with Vít,” Rous said.
MfD says it has records and proof that the call details were processed by ABL. O2 denies that the leak of information came from within the company. “We’re 100 percent certain that there was no irregularity on our part. We have checked all systems and processes, and everything was working without fault and nothing illegal happened,” O2 spokesman, Martin Žabka told Czech Position, adding that the company would advise Rous to file a criminal complaint.
Žabka also said that O2 has not had any commercial relations with ABL whatsoever.
‘No link’ to VV
On Thursday, ABL’s head Matěj Bárta boss issued a statement challenging MfD to reveal more details about the materials, including how the publication obtained them, and called it’s editors unprofessional. “ABL has again been damaged by an article by MfD,” Bárta wrote, adding that the company intends to “escalate the matter of the dispute with Mfd.”
ABL again denied that it is linked with Public Affairs.
On April 6, Mfd published an internal ABL document written by Vít Bárta that contains a five-year plan for the company’s strategy. “[We] cannot differentiate between economic and political power,” the document reads, adding that political activity is a “secondary instrument” to further the company’s economic interests.