Saturday, 20 January 2018

Aktuálně.cz releases OLAF's report on PM Babiš's case

ČTK |
12 January 2018

Prague, Jan 11 (CTK) - The Aktualne.cz server published on Thursday the Czech translation of the complete report of the EU Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF) on the investigation into the Capi hnizdo case in which Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis (ANO) is suspected of a subsidy fraud.

The OLAF writes in conclusion that the Czech and EU laws were violated in the case and that the European Commission has the right to deny financial support for the Capi hnizdo (Stork Nest) farm and conference centre, previously owned by Babis's concern.

The released document summarises the conditions of the farm's request for an EU subsidy, the questioning of witnesses, the statement by the Imoba company, which owns the Capi hnizdo now, the development of ownership relations of the farm and references to the EU legislation.

Imoba said on Thursday it considered the OLAF report absurd. The EU office succumbed to political pressure, the firm said, adding that it had no chance to fully comment on it.

Aktualne.cz did not release the complete addenda of the document, comprised of several hundred pages according to previous information, but it only published their list.

The OLAF document states that the Capi hnizdo farm should not be considered as a small or medium-sized business, on the contrary, it is a firm interconnected with the Agrofert holding or its partner firm, on the basis of the fact that part of the Capi hnizdo stock was owned by the family members of Babis, the then owner of Agrofert.

Babis has said Capi hnizdo was owned by his grown-up children and his current brother-in-law through bearer shares at the time when the subsidy application was submitted.

The OLAF report also says the subsidy for Capi hnizdo amounted to 50 million crowns, 85 percent of which or 42.5 million could be claimed from European funds.

The OLAF recommends that the EU General Directorate for Regional and Municipal Policy secure the withdrawal of this sum from European funding due to the violation of rules.

OLAF also speaks about the concealing of information from the management of the Regional Operational Programme (ROP) that provided the subsidy.

The Czech police accused Babis of a subsidy fraud and harming the EU financial interests and ANO first deputy head Jaroslav Faltynek was accused of assisting in a subsidy fraud in the Capi hnizdo case.

However, their prosecution, for which the previous Chamber of Deputies released them, was interrupted as they were re-elected MPs and regained immunity last October. The police had to ask the Chamber of Deputies for their release for prosecution again. MPs are to decide on this in the days to come.

Another nine people are accused in the Capi hnizdo case, including Babis's wife.

Until late 2007, the Farma Capi hnizdo company belonged to Babis's Agrofert concern. Afterwards, its stake was transferred to bearer shares for a small firm to win the subsidy, which a firm of the huge Agrofert could never get. It observed this condition for a few years, but later it became part of Agrofert again. Moreover, the investigators concluded that there was no economic or trade reason to make the change.

In February 2017, billionaire businessman Babis transferred Agrofert to trust funds to comply with a new conflict of interest law.

Both Babis and Faltynek deny any wrongdoing and say their prosecution is politically motivated.

Copyright 2015 by the Czech News Agency (ČTK). All rights reserved.
Copying, dissemination or other publication of this article or parts thereof without the prior written consent of ČTK is expressly forbidden. The Prague Daily Monitor is not responsible for its content.