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Právo: Babiš suspected of conflict of interest

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Prague, Aug 17 (CTK) – Czech Finance Minister and billionaire businessman Andrej Babis (ANO) is suspected of violating the conflict of interest law by his participation in a German firm, daily Pravo writes yesterday, referring to some members of the Chamber of Deputies mandate and immunity committee.
Babis might be accused of committing a misdemeanour that would be assessed by the commission dealing with administrative delicts at his place of permanent residence, Pravo adds.
On Tuesday, the lower house mandate and immunity committee received a legal analysis of the law on conflict of interest from the respective parliamentary institute and it will look into whether Deputy PM Babis faces a conflict of interest by his admitted membership of the bodies of the SKW Stickstoffwerke Piesteritz German firm, Pravo says.
Unlike legislators, the law bans the government members from sitting on supervisory and managing bodies of firms, no matter if they are Czech or foreign ones.
“The parliamentary institute has confirmed my doubt. I will propose that the mandatory and immunity committee submit the case to the local body dealing with administrative delicts at Finance Minister Andrej Babis’s place of residence,” Martin Plisek (TOP 09), member of the lower house committee, told Pravo.
The MPs from the committee admit that only courts or the respective administrative bodies are authorised to interpret the law. This is why they will leave it up to the local commission to decide on Babis’s case, Pravo adds.
If the commission finds Babis guilty, he can be fined up to 50,000 crowns.
Nevertheless, the proceedings of such commissions are held behind closed doors and their results are kept secret. Moreover, a local commission rarely imposes fines on politicians in such cases since they can help local officials at their place of residence sometimes, Pravo says, referring to the common practice.
Babis, the owner of the Agrofert Holding food concern and some media outlets, denies any wrong-doing.
“I have violated neither Czech nor German law. I have analyses to prove this,” he told Pravo.
The respective German firm is one of the largest producers of chemical material, according to its website.
Babis says it employes “a half of the region” and pays enormous taxes in Germany.
“When I entered politics, I wanted to leave the firm, but banks wanted me to stay there since they considered it important,” Babis said, adding that he had openly declared his involvement in the firm for three years.
He says some people are attempting to harm him and make him leave high politics.
“They are doing their utmost to invent laws against Babis on the ownership of firms and the media and trading with the state,” Babis said, hinting at the prepared “Lex Babis” that would not allow firms in which a government member owns at least 25 percent of the stock to bid for public contracts, subsidies and incentives.
Exactly Plisek is pushing through this legislation.
($1=23.918 crowns)

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