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FinMin accuses MPs of lying, refuses to explain his deals

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Prague, March 15 (CTK) – Czech Finance Minister Andrej Babis told CTK that Wednesday’s parliamentary debate on his incomes and taxes amounted to manipulation and lying, he rejected the Chamber of Deputies’ resolution asking him to refute suspected tax evasion on his part and said he would not explain anything.

Babis, chairman of the ANO movement, called the debate a result of an effective joint effort of Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka’s Social Democrats (CSSD) and Miroslav Kalousek’s right-wing opposition TOP 09 in the lower house’s budget committee.

The debate was initiated by TOP 09. It ended with the lower house’s resolution calling on Babis to refute “serious” suspicions of tax evasion linked to his deals with Agrofert, a holding he formerly owned, by the end of April.

“All this is manipulation and lies, which I reject and I will not explain anything. I have already explained everything,” Babis said.

He said he has become a target of a media campaign.

Kalousek, Sobotka and Deputy PM Pavel Belobradek, who heads the junior government Christian Democratic Union (KDU-CSL), too, should release their respective tax return statements for the past 20 years, Babis said.

Earlier on Wednesday, he said he is the only politician to have done this.

“President [Milos] Zeman says a coalition partner is the worst enemy, so I am the CSSD’s worst enemy… In connection with ANO’s congress in February, they branded me an oligarch and a threat to democracy. Most recently, they gave a new label, ficus, to me,” Babis said, alluding to Foreign Minister and CSSD deputy chairman Lubomir Zaoralek’s drawing parallels between Babis and ficus as a parasitic plant.

Babis said the lawmakers did not want to hear his arguments on Wednesday, otherwise they would have waited with the debate until the evening for him to take part in it.

Babis excused himself from the lower house debate on Wednesday, citing a planned trip to South Bohemia.

“As they did not want to hear me, [ANO deputies’ group head Jaroslav] Faltynek read [my message] to them. I have nothing to add,” Babis said.

When asked whether the government of the CSSD, ANO and the KDU-CSL will survive until the end of its mandate, which is late 2017, he said this is a question for Sobotka and Belobradek to answer.

“I am busy at the Finance Ministry. I work as a minister and I feel no need to listen to the prattle and lies of Mr Kalousek and his guys in the Chamber of Deputies,” Babis said.

Faltynek said ANO was surprised that the KDU-CSL supported the resolution aiming at Babis.

“We are sorry about it. Our coalition partners actually betray us every day. We have got accustomed to it and we must learn to live in such conditions,” Faltynek said.

In its resolution, smoothly passed by deputies across the political spectrum, except for ANO lawmakers, the lower house called on Babis to explain his suspicious financial deals, such as the purchase of one-crown untaxed bonds from his Agrofert Holding in 2012, by the end of April otherwise PM Sobotka should draw consequences in relation to him.

Babis, who seems to be the second richest Czech, transferred his Agrofert holding to trust funds in February in reaction to a new conflict of interest law.

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