Friday, 13 July 2018

Pirates, TOP 09's Feri seek release of OLAF report

ČTK |
29 December 2017

Prague, Dec 28 (CTK) - The deputy group of the Pirates asked the Czech Finance Ministry for the final report of the European Anti Fraud Office (OLAF) on a suspected EU subsidy fraud in the Capi hnizdo case on Thursday, the party has said in a press release.

They also want the Finance Ministry to release the report for the public.

Earlier on Thursday, Dominik Feri, a deputy for TOP 09, said he had asked the ministry for the report.

The Pirates turned to the Finance Ministry on December 22, their spokeswoman Karolina Sadilkova said.

"I am convinced that citizens have the right to know the conclusions of the report because they already paid the 50-million subsidy for Capi hnizdo," Jakub Michalek, chairman of the Pirates deputy group, said.

"It should be certainly released at first to the deputies as they are to vote about confidence in the government of Prime Minister Andrej Babis (ANO) and about the release for prosecution of Babis and ANO deputy head Jaroslav Faltynek," he added.

The Pirates repeated that they would vote for their release and that they would not back the government headed by Babis.

Feri said the report was important for the execution of his post of deputy.

According to the order of procedures of the Chamber of Deputies, the ministry has 30 days to provide the demanded information.

Feri released his request on the Facebook. He cites the law on the Chamber of Deputies order of procedures saying that each of its members has the right to ask government members and heads of state offices for information and explanations necessary to perform their duties.

Feri has asked for the full wording of the OLAF report in both printed and electronic forms and for the information whether the report can be published.

The Finance Ministry received the report on Wednesday.

It passed the OLAF report to the institutions to which the case may relate: the Regional Development Ministry, to which the Regional Operational Programme for cohesion in Central Bohemia (ROP SC) reports, and to the Supreme State Attorney's Office.

Cooperating with Czech authorities and the European Commission, the ministry will decide on whether and how the report may be published.

The Chamber of Deputies, the lower house of Czech parliament, released Babis and Faltynek for prosecution in September as they may be implicated in the case.

However, their prosecution was interrupted as both were re-elected to the Chamber of Deputies and regained lawmakers' immunity in October. The police asked for their release for prosecution again, but the lower house has not decided on it yet.

Eleven people, including Babis and Faltynek, are facing charges in the case.

Last week, the European Commission called on the Czech Republic to withdraw the costs of the Capi hnizdo (Stork Nest) project from the EU-subsidised ROP SC. The Finance Ministry has not yet decided on the affair.

Until 2007, the Farma Capi hnizdo company belonged to Babis's Agrofert Holding concern. Afterwards, its stake was transferred to bearer shares for a small firm to reach a 50-million-crown EU subsidy, which a firm of the huge Agrofert Holding could never get. It observed this condition for a few years, but later it again returned to Babis's concern.

Billionaire businessman Babis transferred the Agrofert concern, including some media outlets, to trust funds in February to comply with an amended conflict of interest law.

Babis and Faltynek are suspected of an EU subsidy fraud and Babis also faces charges of harming EU financial interests in the case. Both deny any wrongdoing and say their prosecution is politically motivated.

Some parties have denied support for a government headed by Babis arguing that a prosecuted man cannot be the prime minister.

In June 2010, the farm was opened, but Babis denied its ownership. He said in 2013 that he did not know to whom Capi hnizdo belonged.

In 2016, he told a session of the Chamber of Deputies that at the time of acquisition of the subsidy, the farm was owned by two of his children and his partner's brother.

Interest in the information was also expressed by the Freedom and Direct Democracy (SPD) and the Mayors and Independents (STAN).

Head of TOP 09 deputy group Miroslav Kalousek has tweeted that if the European Commission does not pay the subsidy for Capi hnizdo to the Czech Republic, the Finance Ministry should join the criminal prosecution as an aggrieved party and enumerate the damage.

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