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Právo: People around ANO leader Babiš facing fraud charges

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Prague, Oct 13 (CTK) – Andrej Babis, chairman of the Czech government ANO movement, and another ten people, including his relatives, are facing fraud charges in connection with a 50-million-crown EU subsidy sent to the Capi hnizdo (Stork Nest) company, daily Pravo wrote on Friday, referring to a trustworthy police source.

The police accusation relates to all 11 people implicated in the case, not only Babis and his deputy Jaroslav Faltynek, head of the ANO group of lawmakers, Pravo writes.

In late 2007, the Farma Capi hnizdo company, whose name was ZZN AGRO Pelhrimov, was a part of Agrofert, a giant chemical, agricultural and food-processing holding owned by billionaire, food and media mogul Babis. In December 2007, the firm’s ownership status changed to bearer share ownership, the ZZN Pelhrimov being its only shareholder. The police say there was no economic or business reason for this change.

The new status made the new owner hard to identify. Then the company won a 50-million-crown EU subsidy designed for small businesses, for which it could never be eligible as a part of Agrofert. A few years later, it rejoined Agrofert.

On Monday, Babis and Faltynek already obtained the notice on the decision to start their prosecution, Pravo writes.

If convicted, they can be sentenced up to ten years in prison for a financial fraud. Babis may also be convicted of harming EU financial interests, it adds.

The notice was also to be delivered by Thursday to Monika Babisova, whom Babis married earlier this year, but who lived with him for many years, Babis’s two children from his first marriage Adriana Bobekova and Andrej Babis Junior, Babis’s brother-in-law Martin Herodes as well as executives of the firms to which Capi hnizdo belonged in the past, Pravo writes.

In the request for the release for prosecution regarding Babis and Faltynek, sent to the Chamber of Deputies, the police mentioned members of the ZZN Pelhrimov board Zdenek Kubiska and Jan Platil, and members of Capi hnizdo’s previous board of directors, Josef Nenadal, Ludek Kalivoda and Jana Mayerova, now deputy mayor of Jihlava, south Moravia.

The police say the trio lodged the application for the 50-million EU subsidy, the crucial affair in the fraud case. At that time, Mayerova, who signed it, worked for the Finance Ministry, Pravo writes.

Mayerova (ANO) told CTK on Friday she believed the charges were expedient, based on ignorance of the situation and facts.

She said when applying for the subsidies, she and her fellow workers had proceeded in harmony with valid legislation and did not hide anything.

Those holding a different view criminalise the process of granting subsidies as a whole, Mayerova said.

She said it was odd that ten years will soon have passed since the application for the EU subsidy for Capi hnizdo had been submitted.

“Is it common to reopen the problem after such a long time, after so many checks we have experienced?” she asked.

“Yes, all those the police named in the request for release of Babis and Faltynek for prosecution are among the defendants in the text of the resolution that started the prosecution,” the source told the paper.

Babis’s children and his wife are implicated in the case because they bought the bearer shares of the company, whose major part was later bought by Herodes, Pravo writes.

In early September, the Chamber of Deputies released Babis and Faltynek for prosecution.

ANO is almost certain to win the October 20-21 general election and Babis may become the prime minister. In such a case, Babis and Faltynek will regain the lawmakers’ immunity and the police will have to discontinue the prosecution and then ask the new lower house to release them again.

If the Chamber of Deputies does not give its consent to this, the prosecution will be suspended until their mandates expire.

However, this does not relate to the rest of the defendants whose prosecution will continue even after the election, Pravo writes.

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