President Zeman: CEFC’s Ye Jianming Innocent Until Proven GuiltyČTK
Prague, March 22 (CTK) – Czech President Milos Zeman does not know why his adviser and CEFC company head Ye Jianming is being investigated in China, he would not interfere in Chinese internal affairs, respects the presumption of innocence and will wait for the result of the enquiry, he says in Mlada fronta Dnes (MfD) out today.
Zeman told the daily that his office’s head Vratislav Mynar, adviser Martin Nejedly and CEFC Czech representative Jaroslav Tvrdik recently went to China at his request to find out whether CEFC will continue investing in the Czech Republic, and that they were assured that CEFC will do so.
The Presidential Office definitely covered the trip for Mynar, Zeman said, adding that he does not know whether it covered the trip for Nejedly and Tvrdik as well. He called the media and opponents’ questions about who financed the threesome’s trip “stupid” and “superficial.”
“Of course, it was an official trip. Of course, it was covered from my office’s budget. Of course, it took place at my request…I believe that the three did a great lot of work. Of course, no one will recognise this,” Zeman said.
He said he had been told that Ye Jianming has left the CEFC management and that the company will continue to be “a flagship of the Chinese investments in the Czech Republic.”
CEFC’s further expansion will be boosted by the fact that almost a half stake in it will be acquired by the CITIC Group, a state-owned company, Zeman said.
He said he learnt about his adviser Ye Jianming’s troubles about a month ago.
“It surprised me a little bit, because [China’s] President Xi Jinping had been present at [the striking of] the deal about CEFC’s capital entry into Russia’s Rosneft company. This fact definitely did not raise my apprehensions. Nevertheless, President Xi is waging a battle against corruption. It is possible that something [unlawful] happened there, though I respect the presumption of innocence both at home and abroad,” Zeman said, referring to suspicions surrounding Ye Jianming.
He said he has learned from media that the investigation concerns corruption activities in Africa, not in the Czech Republic.
“Since I do not want to interfere in China’s internal affairs, I will wait for the result of the investigation,” Zeman said.
Ye Jianming was reportedly arrested in China in mid-February. Neither CEFC nor the Chinese authorities have officially confirmed his arrest for the time being. He is said to be investigated over suspected financial crime.
A couple of years ago, CEFC chose the Czech Republic as the headquarters of its activities in Europe, and it bought stakes in several Czech-based companies. The CEFC Group (Europe) bought, for example, stakes in the Travel Service air carrier, the Invia.cz travel agency, the Pivovary Lobkowicz Group brewery, the Zdas engineering and metallurgic enterprise and the top football league team of Slavia. In the Czech Republic, it manages assets worth more than 1.5 billion euros.
Zeman, who was re-elected Czech president for another five-year term in January, appointed Ye Jianming his special economic adviser in 2015.