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PM calls on FinMin Babiš to explain his property’s origin

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Prague, Jan 31 (CTK) – Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka (Social Democrats, CSSD) called on Finance Minister and billionaire Andrej Babis (ANO) on Tuesday to explain the origin of his past revenues, since doubts must not burden the government’s work and the ministry’s authority.

Sobotka said in a press release that he has addressed the request to Babis due to persisting unclear circumstances of his property’s origin.

“It is unnecessary for these suspicions to burden the work of the whole government and cast doubt on the authority of the Finance Ministry as an office whose tasks include tax collection,” Sobotka wrote.

“The Finance Minister should transparently explain the issue as soon as possible to prevent the opposition’s chance of attacking him and the whole government,” Sobotka added.

Babis’s ANO movement is the most popular party in the country, according to voter preference polls. It is the CSSD’s partner in the three-party centre-left government, but also its biggest rival ahead of the autumn general election.

Earlier on Tuesday, the right-wing opposition called on Sobotka to do something about the unclear origin of Babis’s property.

The situation must be cleared up if people’s trust in politics is to be preserved, ODS chairman Petr Fiala said.

Doubts about Babis’s past revenues were first voiced by the Echo24 server earlier this month.

It wrote that Babis faces a criminal complaint over his purchase of bonds of Agrofert, a giant holding in his possession, in 2013. The complainant suspects Babis of tax evasion and breach of trust, Echo24 wrote.

The police will check the bond acquisition worth 1.48 billion crowns, which generates an annual profit of 90 million crowns for Babis, the server wrote.

Babis told the media that his net revenues until 2015 were 1.52 billion crowns.

Judging by Babis’s property statements, Echo24 came to the conclusion that he had earned 1.11 billion before 2013, which was not enough to buy the bonds.

Babis reacted saying that apart from the above revenues, which were subject to taxation, he had untaxed revenues of 650 million crowns from the sale of companies and shares, and from previous business activities, and therefore he had the sum he needed to buy the bonds.

Babis said the challenged deal was in accordance with law and that he consideres the criminal complaint lodged against him an expedient political step.

Agrofert, a food and chemical holding, issued three billion bonds in late 2012. Babis owns a half of them, Echo24 wrote.

Founded by Babis in 2011, the ANO movement entered the Chamber of Deputies in the October 2013 election and joined Sobotka’s cabinet established in early 2014.

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