Prague, July 13 (CTK) – The Financial Office in Pelhrimov, south Bohemia, has been asked to check whether the law on money laundering was breached within the transfer of the Stork Nest farm’s ownership from Finance Minister Andrej Babis’s Agrofert Holding to his children, server Neovlivni.cz wrote on Wednesday.
The complainant, Pavel Adamec, has asked the office to find the documents on who paid for the Stork Nest shares, how they paid and how much, the server writes.
Until 2007, the Farma Capi hnizdo (Stork Nest) company belonged to Babis’s Agrofert Holding. Afterwards, its stake was transferred to bearer shares for a small firm to reach the 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.
Babis said in parliament in March that the Stork Nest was owned by his two adult children and the brother of his partner when it gained the subsidy.
If it were proved that the Stork Nest was still a part of Agrofert when it received the subsidy, or that it was transferred to Babis’s relatives only expediently, it would amount to a fraud and the Czech state would have to return the subsidy.
Circumstances of the Stork Nest case have been investigated by the Czech police and the EU’s anti-fraud office OLAF.
In his complaint Adamec cites Babis’s testimony on his sale of the shares to his family members and says the payment for the shares had to be cashless as the sum involved exceeded the legal limit for cash payments.
If the payment was made in cash, the law on money laundering was violated, Adamec wrote.
If it turned out that no payment took place at all or the purchase price was lower than its assessment by a court expert opinion, it would mean further troubles for Babis, since based on the EU rules, both would be expedient transfers of property onto the owner’s family members, Neovlivni.cz writes.
The OLAF labelled similar operations subsidy frauds repeatedly in the past.
Babis and Agrofert have dismissed having breached any law in connection with the Stork Nest.
In reaction to Adamec’s complaint, Agrofert spokesman Karel Hanzelka said it amounts to another step aimed to deliberately harm the company.
Neovlivni.cz says Agrofert has refused to submit the documents on the sale of the Stork Nest to Babis’s children at its request.
An extraordinary audit of the Stork Nest operation that the Finance Ministry carried out at the EC’s request earlier this year failed to find the documents as well.
The documents proving who was holding the shares when the Stork Nest received the EU subsidy got lost, the auditors said.