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Babiš denies having managed subsidy fraud in Čapí hnízdo case

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Prague, Aug 15 (CTK) – Czech government ANO chairman Andrej Babis denies having masterminded and coordinated the potentially unlawful steps in the case of the Capi hnizdo farm, he said in a press release sent to CTK by ANO spokeswoman Lucie Kubovicova on Tuesday.

Daily Pravo has reported that in the document in which the police asked the Chamber of Deputies to release Babis and ANO deputy group head Jaroslav Faltynek for prosecution, they accuse former finance minister Babis of having wittingly managed and coordinated the steps taken by other people and thereby committed a subsidy fraud and harmed the EU’s financial interests.

“This is a completely untrue and blatant statement by the police. I have never incited any persons to criminal activities, not to mention in connection with Capi hnizdo,” said Babis, whose ANO is a clear favourite of the October 20-21 general election, according to opinion polls.

Babis has long dismissed any wrongdoing in the Capi hnizdo case.

Last week, he called the police request for his release the effort of the political system to remove him from the scene. Its timing indicates an attempt to influence the election, he said.

Babis criticised on Tuesday the fact that journalists used the document from the police which only the lower housee mandate and immunity committee should have at its disposal.

“I have not seen any document. It is not public. This is why it has shocked me that someone leaked it to journalists. And I have only learnt this from papers,” Babis said.

The police submitted their request for releasing Babis and Faltynek for prosecution last week.

The mandate and immunity committee will debate the police request on Friday, August 18, for the first time. The whole Chamber of Deputies is to decide on both MPs’ release at its session, starting on September 5.

The prosecution of an MP requires the consent of the parliamentary house of which they are members. If either the Chamber of Deputies or the Senate denies the consent, the prosecution is impossible throughout the duration of the mandate. The police can possibly accuse them after the mandate expires.

Faltynek and Babis have faced a legal complaint in the Capi hnizdo case since 2015.

Until 2007, the Farma Capi hnizdo (Stork’s Nest) company belonged to Babis’s Agrofert Holding. Afterwards, its stake was transferred to bearer shares for a small firm to reach a 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.

Billionaire businessman Babis transferred the Agrofert concern, including some media outlets, to trust funds in February to comply with an amended conflict of interest law.

Babis said at a special lower house session initiated by the opposition that his adult children and a brother of his common-law wife (whom he married recently) owned the bearer shares of the farm in 2008-2010 when the firm gained the subsidy.

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