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ANO board standing by Babiš in EU subsidies scandal

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Prague, Aug 31 (CTK) – The Czech ANO board sees no reason to release for prosecution Andrej Babis, leader of ANO, and ANO deputy Jaroslav Faltynek over a scandal with EU subsidies for Babis’ Stork Nest resort, ANO deputy chairman Richard Brabec told journalists on Thursday.

The case is politically motivated, Brabec said.

On Wednesday, the mandate and immunity committee of the Chamber of Deputies recommended that Czech parliament release Babis and Faltynek for criminal prosecution over the scandal.

Babis and Faltynek say the investigation was an expedient effort to harm ANO before the October election.

The lower house will discuss the release for prosecution of Babis and Faltynek at its session on September 6.

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.

If Babis and Faltynek defend their mandate in the October election, the Chamber of Deputies will have to decide on their release for prosecution again.

Faltynek says the police request expediently keeps secret some basic evidence that refutes its version.

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