Police recommend indicting Czech PM for fraud

File photo. Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babiš attends a parliamentary session to a confidence vote in Czech parliament in Prague, Czech Republic, 16 January 2018. [Martin Divisek/EPA/EFE]

Czech police believe billionaire Prime Minister Andrej Babiš should be indicted for alleged involvement in EU subsidy fraud worth two million euros, a spokesman said Wednesday.

“The investigation is over and the complete file has been submitted to the state prosecutor with a recommendation for indictment,” Ales Cimbala, spokesman for the Prague state prosecutor’s office, told AFP.

He said the prosecutor would need “weeks or even months” to decide on the indictment because the file is a substantial one.

Commission to rule on Czech PM conflict of interest ahead of EU elections

Facing conflict of interest proceedings under tightened EU rules, billionaire Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babiš may soon become the first European politician found in violation of the bloc’s new law.

Babiš, a 64-year-old agro-chemicals mogul pegged by Forbes as the second-wealthiest Czech, is suspected of abusing EU funds to build the luxury Stork Nest resort and farm near Prague in 2007.

His populist ANO movement (ALDE-affiliated) leads a minority coalition government with leftwing Social Democrats. It also has tacit backing from the Communists — a first in the post-Communist country’s history.

Late last year, the government survived a confidence vote after media reported that Babiš’ aides had taken his son Andrej Babiš Jr. to Russian-occupied Crimea against the son’s wishes to hinder the fraud probe.

Charged by police in 2017, the elder Babiš and several others are suspected of “subsidy fraud and harming the EU’s financial interests,” crimes that are punishable by prison terms of five to ten years, Cimbala said.

Babiš, whose sprawling Agrofert holding makes food, chemicals and runs two major newspapers and the country’s leading private radio station, has steadfastly denied any wrongdoing.

On Wednesday, he described the case as “politicised” and “an organised plot”.

ANO currently has the highest backing by far of any Czech party, despite the affair and allegations that Babiš was a Communist secret police agent in the 1980s.

ANO was credited with 33% support in a March-April poll by the Kantar CZ agency for Czech Television, ahead of the second-placed Pirates party with 19%.

EU Justice Commissioner Věra Jourová is also from the ANO party. She says she is not involved in the EU decision-making concerning Babiš, this task having been transferred to her colleague Günther Oettinger.

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