Friday, 19 October 2018

Prague attorneys not for release of OLAF's Stork's Nest report

ČTK |
3 January 2018

Prague, Jan 2 (CTK) - The Prague Municipal State Attorney's Office has not recommended that the Finance Ministry release the EU anti-fraud office OLAF's report about its enquiry into the case of a suspected fraudulent EU subsidy drawn by the Czech Capi hnizdo firm, the office's spokeswoman told CTK on Tuesday.

Confirming the information of server Aktualne.cz, the spokeswoman, Stepanka Zenklova, said the release of the report could endanger the ongoing Czech criminal proceedings.

Last year, the Czech police accused ANO leader Andrej Babis, who became prime minister in the meantime, in connection with a suspected fraudulent drawing of a 50-million-crown EU subsidy by the Capi hnizdo (Stork Nest) company.

"We received the [OLAF] report today. The state attorney will study it and afterwards he will give it to the police. The report will be added to the police file. We will neither comment on nor release it in order not to thwart the aim of the criminal proceedings," Zenklova told CTK.

"We have also accordingly reacted to the Finance Ministry's question...., telling them that we find reasons for the [OLAF report] not to be released with regard to the ongoing criminal proceedings," Zenklova said.

Nevertheless, the attorneys' position is only a recommendation, as they cannot forbid the ministry to release the report, she added.

Until late 2007, the Farma Capi hnizdo company, whose previous name was ZZN AGRO Pelhrimov, 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 last February to comply with a new conflict of interest law.

Last year, the Czech police accused 11 people, including Babis and ANO deputy chairman Jaroslav Faltynek, over a fraudulent drawing of the subsidy.

Since the two were re-elected MPs in October, the police have asked the Chamber of Deputies to release them for prosecution. The Chamber is yet to decide on the issue.

A part of lawmakers have asked the Finance Ministry to release the OLAF report. The same request has been addressed by MEPs to the EC.

Babis said on Tuesday that Agrofert has lodged a complaint with the European ombudsman and the Court of Justice over OLAF's enquiry. Babis said he did not read OLAF's final report on it, which OLAF provided to the Czech Finance Ministry in late December. He said he expects Agrofert to receive the report and comment on it.

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