Czech ex-PM Babis, his aide indicted in EU subsidy fraud case

Czech prosecutors charge former Prime Minister Andrej Babis and his aide in a $2.2m EU subsidy fraud case.

Former Czech prime minister Babis
Babis was ousted from his government job in a general election last year [File: Petr David Josek/AP]

Czech prosecutors have indicted former Prime Minister Andrej Babis in a European Union subsidy fraud case involving his farm outside the capital Prague.

Police claim Babis transferred his Stork Nest farm out of his Agrofert food, chemicals and media holding in 2007 to make it eligible for a two-million-euro ($2.2m) EU subsidy for small companies.

The 67-year-old billionaire and populist chairman of the centrist ANO movement is the fifth wealthiest Czech, according to Forbes magazine. He is widely believed to be eyeing a presidential run next year.

Police charged Babis, together with his aide Jana Mayerova, just before he became prime minister in autumn 2017. He has consistently denied any wrongdoing, calling the charges politically motivated.

“The state prosecutor … indicted two people in the case labelled by media as the ‘Stork Nest case’,” Ales Cimbala, spokesman for the Prague prosecutor’s office, said in a statement on Monday.

One of the suspects had “committed the crime of subsidy fraud and harming the financial interests of the European Union”, while the other was an accomplice, he added.

Babis denies charges

Babis told the CTK news agency that he had “never committed any crime, neither in the past nor in politics. And I will prove that in court”.

He was ousted from his government job in last year’s general election, won by a centre-right coalition of five parties led by current Prime Minister Petr Fiala.

Babis went on to become a lawmaker. Parliament stripped him of his immunity earlier this month to enable the indictment.

Police had already called for Babis to be indicted in 2019, but at the time, the prosecutor found the allegations to be unfounded and cleared him.

However, the country’s top prosecutor found flaws in the decision and reopened the case later that year.

Source: News Agencies