Babis Dodges Charges In Subsidy Fraud CaseMatt Atlas
The Prague state attorney said on Friday that the investigation into Prime Minister Andrej Babis and his family for subsidy fraud has been dropped.
The investigation into accusations that Babis, his family members and others had manipulated ownership of a farm and convention center to win European Union subsidies more than a decade ago had undermined his political clout. He always denied any wrongdoing.
The case was the major reason why a number of Czech political parties had refused to cooperate with Babis’s ruling populist ANO movement since it swept to power in 2017.
He runs a minority administration together with the center-left Social Democrats that must lean on Communist Party votes to secure a majority in parliament.
The case against Babis, the billionaire founder and former owner of the chemicals, food, farming and media group Agrofert, focused on a 2 million euro subsidy granted in 2008 for building the Stork’s Nest center outside Prague.
Police saw wrongdoing in Agrofert transferring ownership of the Stork’s Nest firm to anonymous owners later revealed to include his wife and other relatives so that it would qualify for the funding, which was intended for small and medium businesses. But prosecutors found this was not illegal.
“The evidence gathering led to the conclusion that the Stork’s Nest Farm met the definition of a small and medium-sized business,” attorney Martin Erazim said in a statement.
“Despite the established connections between (Agrofert and Stork’s Nest), mainly through family members, Stork’s Nest was correctly assessed as an independent company.”
The Prague state attorney’s decision will be reviewed by the supreme state attorney who has the right to overturn it if he finds it at odds with law.