European Interest

Babis complains about Olaf report

ŠJů/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 3.0
A view of the Headquarters of Agrofert in Chodov, Prague.

The saga over the European Anti-Fraud Office (Olaf) report about an EU subsidy to the Capi hnisdo firm has entered a new phase in the Czech Republic. Now the Czech Agrofert company has filed a complaint with the European ombudsman and the EU Court of Justice over report.

Czech PM and Agrofert’s former owner Andrej Babis announced the decision on January 2 during a conference with journalists after a meeting with President Milos Zeman in the presidential chateau in Lany.

As reported by the Prague Daily Monitor, the Czech police last year levelled accusations against Babis over the 50m-crown subsidy, which they suspect to have been drawn fraudulently in the late 2000s.

Simultaneously, an enquiry into the case was conducted by Olaf, which handed its final report to the Czech finance ministry late last month.

Babis said he has not read the Olaf report. He said he expects Agrofert to receive the report and comment on it.

Babis owned Agrofert, a giant chemical, food and media holding, until last February when he transferred it to a trust fund in compliance with a new conflict of interest law, reported the Prague Daily Monitor.

“According to information from Agrofert, my former company, Olaf’s enquiry had a very non-standard course, which is why a complaint has been filed [by Agrofert] with the European ombudsman, who confirmed that he will deal with the issue. At the same time, a lawsuit was filed with the European Court of Justice over the OLAF enquiry,” said Babis.

He criticised the Regional Operational Programme (ROP) in Central Bohemia for having decided on granting the subsidy to Capi hnizdo (Stork Nest).

“It would be good if someone finally asked the ROP why it granted the subsidy,” Babis said.

He also rejected accusations that the subsidy was stolen. He said: “No one definitely stole anything. The 50 million crowns have been invested in the [Stork Nest] farm, no corruption was involved”.

Meanwhile, the Prague Municipal State Attorney’s Office has not recommended that the finance ministry release Olaf’s report. Spokeswoman Stepanka Zenklova said the release of the report could endanger the ongoing Czech criminal proceedings.

“We received the [Olaf] report today. The state attorney will study it and afterwards he will give it to the police. The report will be added to the police file. We will neither comment on nor release it in order not to thwart the aim of the criminal proceedings,” Zenklova told CTK.

“We have also accordingly reacted to the Finance Ministry’s question… telling them that we find reasons for the [Olaf report] not to be released with regard to the ongoing criminal proceedings,” Zenklova said.

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