Former Czech Prime Minister Babis charged with EU subsidy fraud

The Czech public prosecutor’s office announced on Monday March 21 that it had indicted former Prime Minister Andrej Babis in a European subsidy fraud case concerning his agricultural property.

Czech police claim that in 2007 Andrej Babis, number five on the list of the richest Czechs and presumed presidential candidate next year, took his Stork’s Nest farm out of his holding company Agrofert (food, chemical and media industry ) to obtain a European subsidy of two million euros reserved for SMEs. The 67-year-old billionaire, who chairs his centrist populist movement ANO, denied any illegal act, saying the accusations against him were politically motivated.

Stripped of his immunity

The public prosecutor (…) has charged two people in the case described by the media asstork’s nest case”,” Ales Cimbala, spokesperson for the Prague public prosecutor’s office, said in a statement. He added that one of the suspects had “committed the crime of grant fraud and damage to the financial interests of the European Union», while the other was an accomplice. The businessman had to leave power last year following legislative elections, won by a center-right coalition of five parties led by current Prime Minister Petr Fiala. He became an MP, but Parliament stripped him of his immunity in early March to allow his indictment.

Police had previously wanted to charge him in 2019, but a prosecutor ruled the allegations unfounded and exonerated Andrej Babis at the time. The attorney general found flaws in that decision, however, and reopened the investigation later that year against the billionaire and his assistant Jana Mayerova.

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