European Parliament Committee to Review Babis’s Stork Nest Faud CaseČTK
Strasbourg, (CTK special correspondent) – The European Parliament’s (EP) Budgetary Control Committee will deal with the Capi hnizdo case of a suspected EU subsidy fraud, implicating Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis (ANO), Czech MEP Tomas Zdechovsky said today.
Next Tuesday, the committee will ask European Commissioner for Budget and Human Resources Gunter Oettinger about his findings from the investigation into the case by the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF), he added.
“If a similar case concerned anuther prime minister in the EU, we would be interested in it, too. The EU credibility is at stake, this is about preventing its support for similar projects that need no public support at all in the future,” Zdechovsky added.
Oettinger is supposed to answer the questions of whether the EC will keep its promise to release the conclusions of the OLAF’s enquiry into the cases of Capi hnizdo, the Volkswagen car maker and France’s National Front party, whether it will release the summary of the OLAF report and recommendations concerning Capi hnizdo to the EP committee and whether it can release a list – even incomplete – of the cases in which OLAF reports were released to the public still before the respective cases were closed by courts.
“The goal is to discuss the [Capi hnizdo] case, draw a lesson from it and say what mistakes occurred…It is necessary to close the case,” Zdechovsky told CTK.
He said he expects the EC to keep its promise and tell more about the investigation and about the consequences ensuing from it for the Czech Republic and other countries in the future.
Babis says the whole Capi hnizdo case is Zdechovsky’s fabrication, which the MEP has repeatedly dismissed as nonsense.
Babis questions the OLAF’s independence and claims that the whole case is politicised both in the Czech Republic and in Brussels. He denies any wrongdoing.
The police accused Babis of a subsidy fraud and harming the EU financial interests, and ANO deputy group head Jaroslav Faltynek of assisting in a subsidy fraud in the Capi hnizdo case last year.
However, their prosecution, for which the previous Chamber of Deputies released them, was interrupted as they were re-elected MPs and regained immunity last October. The police had to ask the Chamber of Deputies for their release for prosecution again.
The lower house is to debate and possibly vote on the police request on Friday.
Until late 2007, the Farma Capi hnizdo company belonged to Babis’s Agrofert concern. Afterwards, its stake was transferred to bearer shares so that Capi hnizdo as a small firm could win the subsidy of 50 million crowns , which a firm of the huge Agrofert could never get. It observed this condition for a few years, but later it became part of Agrofert again. Moreover, the investigators concluded that there was no economic or trade reason to make the change.
In February 2017, billionaire businessman Babis transferred Agrofert to trust funds to comply with a new conflict of interest law.
Another nine people are accused in the Capi hnizdo case, including Babis’s wife.