Agrofert Illegally Farming Land After Owners DiedMatt Atlas
Andrej Babis’ Agrofert illegally assumed control of farmland after the legal owners died. While the land sat unclaimed by heirs of the deceased, Agrofert farmed it and received subsidies for managing it.
Government officials confirmed that two Agrofert subsidiaries are under investigation. The two companies in question are ZAS Podchotucí and First Agricultural Záhornice. Both operate farms in Central Bohemia.
State investigators uncovered Agrofert’s illegal operations during a two-year investigation. Which began after journalists from Czech Radio found Agrofert’s illegal operations first. They also discovered that Andrej Babiš received subsidies for the land.
According to data from the State Agricultural Intervention Fund, both companies receive state subsidies. Last year, each received approx. CZK 18 million. Over CZK 10 million of the subsidies were awarded for the land they manage. It is not clear how much the firms have received for property for which they had no contracts.
Agrofert denies any wrongdoing. Saying that they are trying to determine the rightful heirs. In the meantime, they claim to be stewards of the land. By overseeing the plots and paying the owners (in this case, the state) to maintain and improve soil fertility.
Agrofert told Seznam that the rent was only pennies per square meter. In one case at První zemská Záhornice, the total annual rent for the land was approximately CZK 20. The state told us this is a negligible amount that didn’t need a contract, wrote Hanzelka.
The Ministry of Finance looked at half of the 60,000 properties with unidentified owners. And have begun imitating inheritance proceedings so that the rightful heirs can take over the property.
The Ministry of Agriculture said the State Land Office is also reviewing the case. They expect to finish their investigation by the end of this year.