Friday, 22 February 2019

Babiš says Čapí hnízdo was owned by adult children

ČTK |
24 March 2016

Prague, March 23 (CTK) - The Capi hnizdo Farma conference centre near Prague was owned by Czech Finance Minister Andrej Babis's two adult children and his partner's brother when it gained an EU subsidy, Babis, ANO movement chairman, told an extraordinary session of the Chamber of Deputies on Wednesday.

He said he did not commit any subsidy fraud.

The meeting on Wednesday was initiated by the rightist opposition which suspects him of having committed an expedient crime.

"At the same time, I apologise to the public for having shunned answering the question of who the centre's shareholders are. I did not suppose that this great project for the public, for which the European Union should praise the Czech Republic, will be abused against me," Babis said.

At the time when Capi (Stork's Nest) gained a 50 million subsidy, it had bearer shares.

"The subsidy was allocated according to valid rules. I did not commit any subsidy fraud," Babis said.

He said he did not want to disclose the names of the shareholders because he did not want to jeopardise his children.

"That is why I did not always speak correctly, I could not tell the truth, every parent must comprehend this," he said on Wednesday.

He said he will continue in politics. "There is no reason for our coalition government not to continue," Babis said, adding that this depends on the government coalition partners.

The government is also comprised of the Social Democrats (CSSD) and Christian Democrats (KDU-CSL).

According to the media, Capi hnizdo belonged to Babis's Agrofert Holding until 2008. Afterwards, the shares were transferred to bearer shares for the small firm to reach to EU subsidies of some 50 million crowns. It observed this condition for a few years, but later it again returned to Babis's concern.

The ongoing special session of the Chamber of Deputies to deal with the affair was called on the proposal of the right-wing opposition.

Babis said a European specialist in EU funds proposed a new project open to the public, a kind of multi-purpose conference complex in 2007.

Since the project was not connected with Agrofert business, he did not want to carry it out as Agrofert and decided to provide family money to buy the firm and materialise the project.

"I am convinced that the ownership of Farma Capi hnizdo firm had no influence on gaining the subsidy," Babis said.

He said he was convinced that he would have gained money from EU funds even if he were a 100 percent shareholder.

The subsidy was approved by the committee of the Central Bohemia regional cohesion council with the participation of the former governor and current ODS lawmaker Petr Bendl and current TOP 09 lawmaker Helena Langsadlova.

The firm had bearer shares then. If it was part of Agrofert, it would not have probably received a subsidy destined for small and medium-sized businesses.

Babis repeated that no check indicated that the subsidy would have been drawn at variance with the EU rules.

He said Agrofert was a partner of Farma Capi hnizdo, it guaranteed its bank credit and the Inmoba company leased the farm real estate.

After a certain period of time, during which the farm had to fulfil the conditions set for EU subsidies, it returned under Agrofert.

Babis said his group had to take over the project because of its losses.

He spoke for one and a half hours. He only devoted a smaller part of the speech to Capi hnizdo, while he spent most time speaking about other cases of the previous governments.

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