A Czech prosecutor said on Thursday (June 3) that the billionaire prime minister’s conflict of interest case as an entrepreneur and politician had been referred to the new EU prosecutor’s office.
The independent Luxembourg-based European Public Prosecutor’s Office was launched on June 1 to crack down on the fraudulent use of EU funds and other financial crimes.
“Regarding your request, report forms on two cases have been sent to the newly created European Public Prosecutor’s Office,” Prague prosecutor Boris Havel told AFP without giving further details.
The European Commission said in an audit report in April that Andrej Babiš was in conflict of interest in his dual role as Prime Minister and owner of the Agrofert holding company for food, chemicals and media.
Babiš, the fifth richest person in the Czech Republic, has denied any wrongdoing.
He insisted that he transferred Agrofert to two trust funds in February 2017, while he was finance minister, under a Czech anti-corruption law dubbed “Lex Babiš”.
But documents available to the public show that he is still the beneficial owner of Agrofert.
The European Commission concluded that Babiš exerted “decisive influence over trust funds”, demanding “a 100% financial correction” for all grants awarded to Agrofert after February 2017.
Babiš also faces a motion of censure in parliament later Thursday, proposed by the opposition over his alleged conflict of interest and mismanagement of the Covid-19 pandemic.
But he is likely to survive because the opposition needs 101 votes out of the 200 seats in parliament to topple the government – something it does not have after the Communists, who until recently supported the cabinet of Babiš, said they would not participate in the vote.
Even if Babiš loses the vote, nothing will change as President Miloš Zeman, Babiš’s ally, has made it clear that he will let Babiš continue until parliamentary elections scheduled for October 8-9.
Babiš heads a minority government of his centrist populist movement ANO (YES) and left-wing Social Democrats.
A former communist registered as a secret police aide in the 1980s, Babiš also faces police charges for alleged fraud of EU grants involving his farm.
In Parliament on Thursday, he struck a blow at the EU, declaring that “no one from abroad will be interested in our affairs”.
“We don’t want the European Parliament, green fanatics, to run our country,” Babiš said.
After dominating opinion polls with 30% support for years, Babiš’s NOA has recently fallen out of favor with the government’s handling of the coronavirus crisis.
Last weekend, ANO came third in a Kantar CZ agency poll with 19% support, behind two opposition coalitions comprising the five parties that initiated the no-confidence vote.