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January 5, 2018 6:00 am | FILED UNDER: politics

Presidential Candidates Demand to See Babis Subsidy Fraud Report

By ČTK

Prague,  (CTK) – Most Czech presidential candidates would welcome the release of the report by the European Anti Fraud Office (OLAF) on the Capi hnizdo firm’s case of a possible EU subsidy fraud of which PM Andrej Babis is suspected, they have told CTK.

 

Businessman and lyricist Michal Horacek said he had submitted a request for the OLAF report’s release to the Finance Ministry according to the law on access to information.

 

Former PM Mirek Topolanek says he has a feeling that the bodies tend to sweep the affair under the rug.

 

Former ambassador Pavel Fischer is criticising ANO chairman Babis for his refusal to get acquainted with the report.

 

The Farma Capi hnizdo (Stork Nest) company was originally a part of Agrofert, a giant food, chemical and media holding that Babis owned until last February when he transferred it to a trust fund in compliance with a conflict of interest law.

 

However, the firm changed its status to a bearer shares company in late 2007. The police suspect the step to make Capi hnizdo eligible for the EU’s 50-million-crown subsidy designated for small and medium-size firms, which it could have never got as a part of Agrofert, to which Capi hnizdo returned a few years afterwards.

 

“Citizens have the right to know the content of the report. It concerns our prime minister. It is in his utmost interest to explain everything,” Defence and Security Industry Association President Jiri Hynek, running for president, told CTK.

 

Another candidate, Skoda Auto former board chairman Vratislav Kulhanek, says he supports the view of the supreme state attorney saying it is not suitable to release the OLAF report since it is a part of ongoing criminal proceedings.

 

Horacek, for his part, said he would like the OLAF report to be made public.

 

“This is fundamental for the developments on our political scene and it may even influence a vote of confidence in the new government,” he said.

 

Former Science Academy chairman Jiri Drahos said last week he believed that the Finance Ministry and other bodies would release the results of the OLAF investigation to “prevent speculations that might emerge in this case.”

 

“This is a matter of public interest,” Drahos said.

 

Fischer tweeted that it was unacceptable to him that the prime minister refused to read the OLAF report dealing with his own property. Fischer also expressed indignation at the fact that Babis was questioning an official report of the EU investigating office.

 

Jiri Ovcacek, spokesman for President Milos Zeman who seeks re-election, told CTK that Zeman would like to read the OLAF report before commenting on it. However, Ovcacek refused to say whether Zeman had asked authorities for the document.

 

Topolanek said at a press conference on Wednesday that he supposed the steps taken by the Czech law enforcement and other bodies smelt like “playing for time” and “a tendency to sweep it under the carpet.”

 

It is written at the end of the OLAF report that it is not a public document but that it can be made public if the public interest of the Czech Republic requires this, Topolanek pointed out.

 

The report shows that an extensive subsidy fraud was committed in the Capi hnizdo case, he added.

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