Libor Michálek- Czech whistleblowing icon

Author: Goran Lefkov

The case of the most famous Czech whistleblower Libor Michálek is one of the most impressive in the European Union. He has been a whistleblower twice, while the third time he was the author of the Czech Law on Whistleblowers from 2013.

He has proudly been having the title of whistleblower shoulder since 1996. As a broker of the National Property Fund, our counterpart institution of the Agency for Privatization of Social Capital, he exposed a fraudulent scheme for pumping state money from this Fund.

Immediately after exposing the scheme, Michálek lost his job at the age of 38. He went to court, sued the Fund and the court accepted the lawsuit. The National Property Fund was to compensate Michálek as it had unfairly fired him.

Michálek earned the second important role of whistleblower more than a decade later. Then already known to the public and as an experienced whistleblower. In August 2010 Michálek was appointed Director of the Czech National Environmental Fund. Already in December of the same year, he cut a very serious crime. This time related to hundreds of millions of euros. As director of this Fund, he discovered a bid-rigging scheme for a water plant in Prague. According to his claims, the factory had a higher price of more than 3 billion Czech crowns or about 123 million euros. Michálek reported this scandal to the Anti-Corruption Commission.

Michálek secretly recorded the evidence for the scandal. Martin Knetig had been recorded. At the time, Knetig was an adviser to Environment Minister Pavel Drobil.

In the audio recording made by Libor Michálek there was the voice of Knetig, asking Michálek to manipulate the bid, so that he could finance the political party Civic Democrats, where Minister Pavel Drobil came from, with the surplus of 123 million euros.

Prime Minister Petr Nečas defended Drobil and called Michálek untrustworthy despite his public reputation as a whistleblower. As the Civic Democrats pledged to fight corruption, the loss of their first minister over corruption allegations was a blow to the party’s position. The incident with Drobil was the first of several high-profile resignations. On December 21, 2010, Czech Police Chief Oldřich Martinů resigned following a month-long call by Interior Minister Radek John for his removal, in part because of the Drobil’s case. After having released the recording, Drobil offered Michálek a vice-presidential post in his party, only to drop the accusations, as the Civic Democrats were campaigning on the fight against corruption.

Michálek has remained true to his values and has not betrayed his vision of a world free of corruption. He is a man who believes that if we all stood in the line of whistleblowers when we came across criminal behavior, the world would have much less corruption, and citizens would live much better.

Led by this idea, Michálek entered politics, where as an independent candidate he entered the Czech Parliament, and there in 2013 he proposed the first Czech Law on Protection of Whistleblowers.

Libor Michálek is the recipient of the Anti-Corruption Fund Award, followed by the Charter 77 Foundation Award.

Michálek was a member of the Czech Senate from 2012 to 2018.