Babis Stripped of Immunity – Faces ProsecutionČTK
Prague, (CTK) – The Czech police can resume the criminal prosecution of Prime Minister Andrej Babis (ANO) and ANO deputy chairman Jaroslav Faltynek over a suspected fraud related to EU subsidy for Capi hnizdo farm since the Chamber of Deputies stripped both politicians of their MP’s immunity today.
In each of the two separates votes on Babis and Faltynek, 111 of the 180 MPs present voted in support of the release for prosecution and 69 MPs voted against it.
Before the session today, most opposition parties said they want Babis and Faltynek released and only the ANO movement MPs said they would back their two leaders.
Babis and Faltynek said they did not commit any crime, but they asked the Chamber to strip them of immunity. Babis claims that the case was fabricated by his political opponents.
The lower house session released the two MPs after a debate lasting 4,5 hours.
The Chamber of Deputies released Babis and Faltynek for prosecution last year already and the police accused them last autumn. But both ANO leaders defended their lower house seats in the general election in October 2017 and thus regained their immunity. Faltynek has been accused of a subsidy fraud, Babis also of harming the EU financial interests. Further nine people are prosecuted in the case, including Babis’s wife, his two grown-up children and his brother-in-law.
Until late 2007, the Farma Capi hnizdo company belonged to Babis’s Agrofert concern. Afterwards, its stake was transferred to bearer shares so that Capi hnizdo as a small firm could win the subsidy of 50 million crowns, which a firm of the huge Agrofert could never get. It observed this condition for a few years, but later it became part of Agrofert again. Moreover, the investigators concluded that there was no economic or trade reason to make the change.
In February 2017, billionaire businessman Babis transferred Agrofert to trust funds to comply with a new conflict of interest law.