Wire Service
1 minute read
17 Apr 2019
4:11 pm

Police recommend indicting Czech PM for fraud


Czech police believe billionaire Prime Minister Andrej Babis should be indicted for alleged involvement in EU subsidy fraud worth two million euros, a spokesman said Wednesday.

Czech Republic's Prime Minister Andrej Babis has been accused of abusing EU funds to build a luxury resort in 2007. POOL/AFP/EVA PLEVIER

“The investigation is over and the complete file has been submitted to the state prosecutor with a recommendation for indictment,” Ales Cimbala, spokesman for the Prague state prosecutor’s office, told AFP.

He said the prosecutor would need “weeks or even months” to decide on the indictment because the file is a substantial one.

Babis, a 64-year-old agro-chemicals mogul pegged by Forbes as the second-wealthiest Czech, is suspected of abusing EU funds to build the luxury Stork Nest resort and farm near Prague in 2007.

His populist ANO movement leads a minority coalition government with leftwing Social Democrats. It also has tacit backing from the Communists — a first in the post-Communist country’s history.

Late last year, the government survived a confidence vote after media reported that Babis’ aides had taken his son Andrej Babis Jr. to Russian-occupied Crimea against the son’s wishes to hinder the fraud probe.

Charged by police in 2017, the elder Babis and several others are suspected of “subsidy fraud and harming the EU’s financial interests,” crimes that are punishable by prison terms of five to ten years, Cimbala said.

Babis, whose sprawling Agrofert holding makes food, chemicals and runs two major newspapers and the country’s leading private radio station, has steadfastly denied any wrongdoing.

On Wednesday, he described the case as “politicised” and “an organised plot”.

ANO currently has the highest backing by far of any Czech party, despite the affair and allegations that Babis was a Communist secret police agent in the 1980s.

ANO was credited with 33 percent support in a March-April poll by the Kantar CZ agency for Czech Television, ahead of the second-placed Pirates party with 19 percent.