EU Anti-Fraud Office’s Report Confirms Fraud Occurred in Capi Hnizdo Case- Government Urged to Take ActionČTK
Prague, (CTK) – The EU Anti-Fraud Office’s (OLAF) report on its enquiry into a suspicious subsidy for the Czech Capi hnizdo firm contains nothing crucial beyond the information in the Czech police’s file on the case, Katerina Valachova, a member of the lower house mandate and immunity committee, said today.
Valachova (opposition Social Democrats, CSSD) was speaking to CTK after studying the OLAF report at the Prague Police Directorate.
Jakub Michalek (Pirates), also a member of the committee, commented on the report similarly after acquainting himself with it today.
Another member, Miroslav Kalousek (TOP 09), said the OLAF report is valuable in that an independent Euruopean authority has confirmed that the Czech police has not acted expediently in the Capi hnizdo case.
Valachova said the report does not state the culpability of anyone, since OLAF is not empowered to do so.
The report that OLAF submitted to selected Czech authorities in mid-December relates to a suspected fraudulent drawing of an EU subsidy by the Capi hnizdo (Stork Nest) company linked to Agrofert, a giant holding formerly owned by Andrej Babis, the ANO movement leader and current prime minister, in the late 2000s.
“In my opinion, the report contains no new breakthrough facts that would not have figured in the [Czech police’s] file of investigation before,” Valachova said.
It is evident that OLAF and the Czech police cooperated and exchanged information, she said.
“By no means does the report state a criminal act on the part of any person. This is not its purpose,” Valachova said, adding that OLAF’s task is different.
Michalek, too, said the OLAF report corresponds to the Czech police file and it contains the word “fraud.”
“Even an independent body (OLAF) has confirmed that discrepancies or a fraud occurred,” Michalek said.
After thoroughly studying the Capi hnizdo case, OLAF calls for it to be checked by Czech judiciary, he said.
Kalousek said the OLAF report contains words as a subsidy fraud and the harming of the EU’s interests along with the relevant legal articles.
To those who know the text of the Czech police accusations, the OLAF report is no surprise, Kalousek said.
In the Capi hnizdo case, the Czech police have levelled accusations against eleven people including Babis and ANO deputy head Jaroslav Faltynek, and have asked the Chamber of Deputies to release the two for prosecution.
The Chamber’s mandate and immunity committee will discuss the police request on Tuesday, in the presence of Babis, Faltynek, the investigator and the supervising state attorney.
Valachova, who is the committee’s rapporteur on the case, said she does not expect it to decide on Tuesday on whether to recommend that the lower house release Babis and Faltynek to the police.
Some of the committee members protest saying they have not had a chance to look into the police file as yet, Valachova said.
Nevertheless, the committee should do its best to decide on the release at its session to follow, she said.
The Finance Ministry, which has the 50-page OLAF report at its disposal, has refused to release it and has made only three paragraphs of its conclusions available to the public, in which OLAF asks for Capi hnizdo to be deleted from EU-subsidised projects and mentions discrepancies around the Capi hnizdo transactions.
Michalek said today the three paragraphs released by the ministry are no conclusions of the OLAF report but its recommendation for what steps Prague should take.
“The report’s conclusions mention a problematic behaviour which OLAF suspects to be a subsidy fraud harming the EU’s interests,” Michalek said.