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All one-crown bonds issuers will be checked, minister says

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Prague, April 26 (CTK) – All firms that issued one-crown bonds in 2012 will be controlled by the Financial Administration (FS), Czech Finance Minister Andrej Babis (ANO), who has said in the Chamber of Deputies the pressure exerted on the FS is absurd, told journalists yesterday.

The need for the controls was stressed of late mainly by ANO’s government coalition partners, the Social Democrats (CSSD) and the Christian Democrats (KDU-CSL).

Babis said Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka (CSSD) should mainly assess his work as finance minister if he is really considering dismissing him over the bonds.

On Monday, in reaction to the CSSD’s request, Babis submitted to the government a report on the bonds-motivated controls the FS has conducted as yet.

He said controls were done in 233 firms.

In the proposal to tax one-crown bonds the government approved one week ago, Babis said bonds were issued in 525 cases. They were worth a total of 164 billion crowns.

“All (firms) will naturally be controlled,” Babis told journalists today.

In March, the Chamber of Deputies called on Babis to refute “serious” suspicions of tax evasion in connection with the one-crown bonds.

Unless he does so, Sobotka should draw consequences from this, the deputies said in the document.

Babis said he wants to react by Friday. Sobotka said after the government’s meeting on Monday that the deadline Babis was given must be respected.

Sobotka did not comment on the possibility, which is speculated about in the government, that he could dismiss Babis if his explanation were unsatisfactory.

“I do not want to rule out any alternative of government changes if this were necessary,” Sobotka said.

Babis said Sobotka should rather assess his work at the Finance Ministry.

“We have excellent results and the ministry has clear results. It is of course a result of my work as well that we manage public finances as family finances. I do not know what I did badly during my political career,” Babis told journalists today.

He repeatedly said the one-crown bonds case is a campaign aimed against him. “When the previous campaigns failed, this comes in handy now,” he said.

The possibility to issue untaxed one-crown bonds was introduced in the first half of the 1990s. Former finance minister Miroslav Kalousek (2006-13) used it to issue state bonds for people. Later, business companies started issuing such bonds as well.

People started to take interest in them in connection with that Babis bought the bonds of Agrofert, which he owned then, in 2012 for 1,5 billion crowns.

The one-crown bond system was abolished by law in 2013.

($1=24.580 crowns)

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