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Committee asks Chamber to let police prosecute Babiš

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Prague, Aug 30 (CTK) – The mandate and immunity committee recommended that Czech parliament release former deputy prime minister Andrej Babis and MP Jaroslav Faltynek (both ANO) for criminal prosecution over the Stork Nest subsidy scandal, its head Miroslava Nemcova said after a five-hour meeting on Wednesday.

Nemcova (Civic Democrats, ODS) said she would not tell how many committee members voted for the release since the meeting was held behind closed doors. Nobody required further documents on the suspected subsidy abuse, she said.

The plenary session of the lower house of parliament is likely to deal with the police request for releasing Babis and Faltynek on September 6. Babis is suspected of a subsidy fraud and harming EU interests. Faltynek is suspected in taking part in a subsidy fraud.

Babis said he had expected this result. He said the aim is to harm his party before the October general election.

“We have of course expected this because the division of political forces in the committee is clear. So I again declare that this is a case that is to markedly influence the next elections. This is not the Stork Nest case, but the case of who will win the next elections and who will or won’t be in the government,” Babis said.

Faltynek said the police concealed some facts that would not fit their version of the case.

Billionaire Babis is the leader of the ANO movement, which is the favourite of the forthcoming elections. He was finance minister and deputy prime minister from January 2014 to May 2017.

The Stork Nest case, dubious financial transactions and suspected abuse of independent media were among the reasons why Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka (Social Democrats, CSSD) demanded that Babis leave the cabinet.

Babis and Faltynek have been facing a criminal complaint over the Capi hnizdo (Stork Nest) farm and congress complex since the late 2015. In 2007-08, the Capi hnizdo firm was a part of Agrofert, a giant chemical, agricultural and food-processing concern, of which Babis is the sole owner, though his ownership is not direct anymore. Afterwards, the firm’s owner changed through a chain of transactions that made the new owner hard to identify. Then it gained a 50-million-crown EU subsidy designed for small firms, which it could never gain as part of Agrofert. A few years later, it rejoined Agrofert.

Faltynek is ANO first deputy chairman and a former top manager in Agrofert.

Earlier this week, another scandal concerning Babis broke out. He is suspected of abusing a state body for eliminating a business rival of Agrofert.

MP Roman Sklenak (CSSD) said he has no doubt that the prosecution is not politically motivated. He said all the witnesses were heard by the committee.

Committee member Matej Fichtner (ANO) told CTK that the police request was based on a mere theory. He said he cannot be sure that the police request is not politically motivated. The steps that the police and state attorneys took can be challenged since they do not correspond to the contents of the file on the case, Fichtner added.

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