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Audio shows Babiš was sacked from gov’t rightfully, Chovanec says

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Prague, Aug 28 (CTK) – A new audio showing that Czech ANO head and former finance minister Andrej Babis misused the Financial Administration (FS) body for his business purposes confirms that his sacking from the cabinet in May was a rightful step, Interior Minister Milan Chovanec (Social Democrats, CSSD) said today.

Chovanec said the police should ascertain whether the recording, which appeared on Twitter on Sunday and in which Babis comments on a firm that ended up bankrupt after the FS’s intervention, is authentic.

“Our people cracked down on FAU, which is therefore insolvent now, with frozen accounts, train carriages,” Babis says in the one-minute audio recording.

It is not clear when Babis was speaking and to whom.

Chovanec said the FS director should explain the body’s practice of issuing orders to freeze selected companies’ property.

“In addition, the FAU case once again arouses questions about the independence of the FS, which showed sluggishness when recently checking the issuance of [controversial] one-crown bonds, another case involving Andrej Babis,” Chovanec said.

Agriculture Minister and Christian Democrat (KDU-CSL) deputy chairman Marian Jurecka said he wants the government and possibly also the public to be informed about the results of the ongoing check of the FS’s operation.

He said entrepreneurs have been turning to him to complain about the action taken by bodies falling under the Finance Ministry, which they consider unrightful.

Jurecka, too, said the police should verify the authenticity of the latest and the other audio recordings involving Babis.

He said the owners of the recordings, who placed them on an anonymous Twitter account, should have handed them to the police immediately so that the police could start enquiring into the FS’s practices.

Jurecka said as a minister, he would never dare to ask for information and interfere in the proceedings and cases handled by the administration bodies that fall under his ministry.

“This is close to a breach of law,” Jurecka said.

In reaction to speculations, Babis earlier today dismissed having misused or tasked either the FS or the Customs Administration while finance minister from 2014 until May 2017.

FAU, a fuel-trading company, went insolvent last October, and a court launched bankruptcy proceedings against it two months later. Babis was finance minister at the time.

Citing a court verdict, daily Hospodarske noviny (HN) wrote last week that the FS’s intervention was unlawful.

FAU has a warehouse in a complex belonging to the Precheza company, a part of Agrofert, the giant chemical, agricultural and food processing holding which Babis owned before transferring it to a trustee fund this February.

Both Agrofert and the FS have dismissed HN’s information that Agrofert showed interest in the warehouse but FAU refused to sell it, after which the FS’s crackdown, including a property-freezing order, followed.

Finance Minister Ivan Pilny (ANO) said the FAU case is being checked by the Supreme Court (NS) now based on two cassation complaints it received.

PM Bohuslav Sobotka (CSSD) had Babis dismissed as finance minister this spring over Babis’s previous dubious business deals including his purchase of untaxed one-crown bonds from Agrofert.

Babis’s ANO is a favourite in the October 20-21 general election.


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