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ČSSD demands info on checks of one-crown bonds

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Prague, April 21 (CTK) – The Czech senior government Social Democrats (CSSD) demand that the Tax Authority release information about its checks of the untaxed one-crown bonds that firms issued in 2012, PM and CSSD chairman Bohuslav Sobotka told reporters Friday.

He expressed a suspicion of these bonds having been motivated by the intention to avoid tax payment in many cases.

The Social Democrats fear that these possible tax evasion cases might be statute-barred this summer when the five-year limitation period expires.

Finance Minister and Deputy PM Andrej Babis (ANO) told public Czech Television (CT) that the authority would submit data on the checks to the government and the Chamber of Deputies.

Tax Authority head Martin Janecek only told CTK that he would send a statement “on the matter of bonds” to the Chamber of Deputies.

“By the way, a check of bonds is underway in Agrofert as well,” Babis added, referring to the concern he owned until recently.

Babis transferred Agrofert to a trustee fund in February to comply with the amended conflict of interest law that bars firms controlled by ministers from access to public contracts, state subsidies and incentives.

One-crown bonds drew the public and media attention exactly because of Babis (ANO). He is criticised for the purchase of untaxed one-crown bonds issued by his Agrofert concern for 1.5 billion crowns in 2013. Babis repeatedly dismissed any wrongdoing.

On Wednesday, the government approved his bill that would tax the profits from one-crown bonds as of 2018.

However, Sobotka expressed doubts that the bill could be passed in parliament by the autumn general election. He said Babis ought to have submitted it earlier.

Sobotka said today the Tax Authority had released many statistics about businesspeople’s mistakes in VAT ledger statements and the electronic sales registration (EET). However, there are no statistics available on its checks of one-crown bond issues, he added.

“The Tax Authority cannot focus on small businesspeople and employees only and ignore in silence big firms, billionaires, simply rich people. We are convinced that tax laws must apply to everyone in our country,” Sobotka said.

This is why he said he expected the Tax Authority’s statement on its checks of one-crown bonds to be submitted to the Monday government meeting.

He pointed out that several hundred firms had issued one-crown bonds in 2012 and that some cases provoked a serious suspicion of attempted tax evasion.

In this connection, he mentioned businessman Radim Jancura and his Student Agency holding.

Jancura, who does not conceal his support for Babis, launched a poster campaign criticising some CSSD politicians last year.

Interior Minister and CSSD first deputy head Milan Chovanec said the tax evasion cases related to one-crown bonds might be stature-barred in June or July.

This is why Janecek should try hard to complete the investigation into the most suspicious cases not to face risk of committing breach of trust or abuse of of power, Chovanec said.

“The Financial Authority has been active in this respect for long,” Janecek said without elaborating.

The possibility to issue untaxed one-crown bonds was introduced in the first half of the 1990s. Current opposition TOP 09 chairman Miroslav Kalousek used this for state bonds which were to attenuate the financial crisis, when he was finance minister (2010-13).

Later, firms started issuing such bonds the proceeds of which were exempted from tax. An amendment to the law from 2013 terminated this possibility.

($1=25.043 crowns)


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