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Respekt: Czech police look into minister Babiš’s bonds

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Prague, May 1 (CTK) – The Czech police, along with the financial authority, have started to look into the purchase of untaxed one-crown bonds, issued by the Agrofert Holding and bought by Finance Minister Babis (ANO) when he still owned the firm, the Respekt weekly has written, referring to Babis.

The police will not comment on the case, Jaroslav Ibehej, spokesman for the National Centre against Organised Crime, said.

Babis blames Interior Minister Milan Chovanec (Social Democrats, CSSD) for the police action.

“Chovanec’s police are investigating me everywhere,” Babis told Respekt.

Chovanec dismissed Babis’s accusation of his influencing the police investigation.

“If Babis can see a political order behind the independent police’s steps, this just illustrates his way of thinking and his managing the Finance Ministry and the Financial Administration,” Chovanec tweeted.

Babis told reporters in the afternoon, commenting on the police and financial authority’s intervention in Agrofert, that all should calm down and let the independent bodies investigate.

“Let us hope that Minister Chovanec will not influence them,” Babis said, adding that he suspected Chovanec of abusing the intelligence service against him.

A specialised financial authority has asked the Agrofert concern for documents on all bonds the firm issued, including those Babis bought, Agrofert spokesman Karel Hanzelka told CTK on Sunday.

Consequently, the authority is also checking Babis’s untaxed one-crown bonds, issued by his Agrofert in 2012, that he bought for 1.5 billion crowns.

Babis faces a tax evasion suspicion over it, but he has repeatedly dismissed any wrongdoing. He called the whole affair an organised campaign against him.

Both the right-wing opposition and representatives of the senior government CSSD consider Babis’s explanation he sent to the lower house insufficient.

PM Bohuslav Sobotka (CSSD) said he would base his decision concerning Babis’s continuation in the government on what would be beneficial for the state and citizens. He also said he would comment on Babis’s letter and on his possible dismissal on Tuesday.

Babis transferred Agrofert to a trustee fund in February to comply with the amended conflict of interest law that bars firms controlled by ministers from access to public contracts, state subsidies and incentives.

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