Prague, May 23 (CTK) – Czech Finance Minister Andrej Babis (ANO) today threatened Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka (Social Democrats, CSSD) with a lawsuit unless he ceases to publicly suspecting him of tax evasion and abuse of the Financial Administration, with which he justified Babis’s dismissal.
Babis will be dismissed on Wednesday.
Sobotka said he will not be intimidated by Babis’s pre-action call.
“Intimidation and lies are common methods billionaire Babis implements in taking over firms. Now, he is practicing this in politics. I will not let myself be intimidated by him,” Sobotka wrote.
“I resolutely reject the allegations that I lie in public, that I avoid tax paying, or that I am abusing the Financial Administration,” Babis said.
He said such statements make the impression as if he acted illegally, which is not true.
Babis said Sobotka’s statements have the character of slander and that they adversely affect his reputation and respect in society.
In a letter dated May 18, Babis asks Sobotka to quit such statements.
“In case you do not do so, I will assert my right to the protection of personal rights at court,” Babis wrote.
In the letter, Babis states four specific statements, which Sobotka made during press conferences after meetings of the CSSD board or at the Government Office during May.
In them, Sobotka justifies his effort to dismiss Babis. He speaks about trade relations between Babis and his former Agrofert holding, possible tax evasion through the issuing of untaxed one-crown bonds, or the influencing of the media Babis owned.
In February, Babis transferred Agrofert holding, which also includes some media, to trustee funds in compliance with an amended law on conflict-of-interest.
Babis writes that he has taken all possible steps to refute the suspicions. For instance, he wrote a number of letters to Sobotka.
Babis has been denying the dubious moves which he made according to the opposition as well as the government coalition partners since the very beginning.
He refused to resign as finance minister, but he and Sobotka agreed on the name of his successor last week. Tomorrow, President Milos Zeman will dismiss him and appoint MP Ivan Pilny (ANO) as his successor.
In the first half of May, the Chamber of Deputies approved a resolution saying that Babis publicly lied and abused his media to compromise his political rivals.
It reacted to the audio recordings of Babis’s talks with a former journalist from his former daily Mlada fronta Dnes (MfD), Marek Pribil, which appeared on an anonymous Twitter account under the name of Julius Suman.
In the recordings, Pribil is consulting Babis about when to release the material on Babis’s political rivals.