Andrej Babis

Matt Atlas

Justice Ministry Refuses To Review Babis’s Conflict Of Interest

The Ministry of Justice denied a request to review a ruling by the Regional Council of Central Bohemia in Andrej Babis’ conflict of interest. Transparency International (TI) initiated the review after Supreme State Attorney Pavel Zeman confirmed Andrej Babis controls Agrofert and is in a conflict of interest.

However, the ministry says the anti-corruption organization did not present any new evidence. According to the law, the ministry could not review the ruling, said a spokesman for the office.

According to the Minister of Justice Marie Benešová, the organization prepared a complaint “with ignorance of the law.” “Surprisingly, the lawyers of this organization do not know that if we complied with their request, we would break the law,” she said.

The Central Bohemian Region was an appellate body in administrative proceedings concerning Babiš’s alleged misdemeanor against the Conflict of Interest Act. The Prime Minister faced suspicions that he still controlled the media from the Mafra Group, which belongs to the Agrofert holding, which he invested in trust funds in 2017. Under the Conflict of Interest Act, politicians are not allowed to own a periodical.

The region decided that Babiš did not have a conflict of interest. At the beginning of August, Zeman stated that, according to him, the prime minister still has a decisive influence on companies from the Agrofert holding. However, he did not file an administrative lawsuit because he did not find any public interest. The anti-corruption organization then attached the NES notification to its initiative to review the case.

The Ministry of Justice concluded in October 2019 that the appellate administrative body’s decision complied with legal regulations. The initiative was considered once, and in August, the organization turned to it for the second time. However, according to him, it did not bring “any new knowledge about the final case.”

The municipal office in Černošice, which was competent in the first instance due to the prime minister’s place of residence, found a conflict of interest with Babiš and imposed a fine on him last January. Babiš’s lawyers appealed, and the regional office of the Central Bohemian Region concluded that the misdemeanor did not happen, and the proceedings were halted.

The prime minister denies allegations of a conflict of interest. He claims that by placing Agrofert in trust funds, he no longer influences the holding company and its subsidiaries.