The European Commission rejected the request for payment of subsidies for plastics company Fatra from the Trust Fund of Prime Minister Andrej Babis , according to iROZHLAS.cz. With the help of the request, the Czech authorities tried to test whether Brussels would not actually pay the money due to Babiš’s conflict of interest, and to obtain a decision to reject the payment that could be challenged in court.
According to the EC auditors, Babiš has a conflict of interest, as he controls the trust funds in which he has invested his assets. Subsidies from the structural funds of the European Union in the total order of hundreds of millions of crowns, which companies received from the Agrofert holding since 1 September 2017, are therefore unjustified, according to the auditors’ conclusion. Both the Prime Minister and Agrofert reject the conflict of interest.
The server stated that the head of the Directorate-General for Regional Policy, Mark Lemaitre, wrote a letter to the Czech Ambassador to the EU, Edita Hrdá. He writes in it that applications for subsidies for the replacement of grain dryers for Cerea and for the purchase of a new rolling mill for Fatra are unjustified. According to iROZHLAS.cz, the commission has now told the Czech Republic that it must cancel the project, otherwise it is in danger of suspending further subsidies.
“Only a court can issue a decision in this matter,” Agrofert spokesman Karel Hanzelka responded to the server’s information about the letter. According to him, the holding does not know about the letter, nor does it agree with the interpretation that other subsidies for the Czech Republic would be endangered.
The Ministry of Industry and Trade reimbursed Fatra 547,000 crowns six months ago. On June 16, the Ministry of Finance sent an extraordinary request for payment of a subsidy for Fatra, although Deputy Foreign Minister Martin Smolek, who had previously come up with a plan for testing conflicts of interest, warned the server about the risks of this plan.