Matt Atlas

EU Public Prosecutor’s Office To Takeover Babis’ Conflict Of Interest Case

The case of Prime Minister Andrej Babiš’s conflict of interest is heading to the European Public Prosecutor’s Office (EPPO), which became operational in Luxembourg on 1 June. The institution should take over all the more serious matters with an impact on the EU budget, on which the Public Prosecutor’s Office started working after November 2017. In the Czech Republic alone, there will be about 60 criminal cases. 

The handover of the case was confirmed to the server by the supervising public prosecutor Boris Havel from the High Public Prosecutor’s Office in Prague. “In the case you are questioning, it can be stated that it meets the conditions of mandatory jurisdiction of the newly established European Public Prosecutor’s Office under the relevant European Union Regulation, to which it must be handed over without delay,” he said.

The European Commission and the Czech police are dealing with a possible conflict of interest of the Czech Prime Minister. 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 9 February 2017, are therefore unjustified, according to the auditors’ conclusion. Both the Prime Minister and Agrofert reject the conflict of interest.

The police have been dealing with a broader criminal report in connection with the violation of the Conflict of Interest Act since 2019. It was filed by the Pirate Party stating that subsidy fraud could be committed due to subsidies and tenders for Agrofert, the European Union’s financial interests could be harmed or officials. Last July, criminal investigators began criminal proceedings and began to officially investigate the case, gathering evidence and witness statements to clarify the matter. In the coming days, however, the Public Prosecutor’s Office will hand over the file to Luxembourg. “We have no other choice, it is due to the superior jurisdiction of the office,” added Lenka Bradáčová, Prague’s chief state prosecutor.

According to Klement, it should be decided within a few days which of the cases the European office will eventually retain. “Of course we know about the case. If Mr Havel intends to report it – and we expect him to report it – we will consider all the criteria. So we are likely to take over the case,” said Klement, who was appointed European Prosecutor for the Czechia last year in July.

EPPO has been operating since Tuesday, addressing serious economic crime harming the European Union’s financial interests. Under it will be representatives of all European Union countries except Poland, Hungary, Ireland, Sweden and Denmark. These countries will not participate in the work of the Office. The EU institutions estimate that the EU lost about 460 billion euros (almost 12 trillion crowns) in 2019 alone due to various financial frauds. The prosecutor’s office estimates that it will deal with approximately 3,000 cases a year.