Saturday, June 19, 2021

Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis faces $2 million fraud allegation

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Czech police recommended for a second time on Monday that Prime Minister Andrej Babis should be indicted over fraud involving European Union subsidies.

Prosecutors in Prague said they had received the results of the updated police investigation into Babis’ alleged involvement in the US$2 million fraud. They now have to decide whether to file charges against him or dismiss them.

Police already recommended the same two years ago but a prosecutor decided to drop the case. That decision was later overturned by the country’s chief prosecutor, Pavel Zeman, who said that it was premature and that there was not enough evidence to either press or drop the charges.

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It wasn’t immediately clear when the prosecution might finish the reevaluation of the case. The file has 34,000 pages.

The case involves a farm that received EU subsidies after its ownership was transferred from the Babis-owned Agrofert conglomerate of around 250 companies to Babis’ family members.

The subsidies were meant for medium-sized and small businesses and Agrofert should not have been eligible for them. Later, Agrofert again took ownership of the farm.

Babis, a populist billionaire, denies any wrongdoing.

Separately, a recently published European Union report concluded that Babis has a conflict of interest over EU subsidies involving his former business empire.

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