Babiš Jr. says he had no clue his father had transferred shares into his name

As the fraud case against former Czech PM continues today, his estranged son took the stand.


Written by ČTK Published on 16.09.2022 12:43:00 (updated on 16.09.2022) Reading time: 3 minutes

Prague, Sept 16 (ČTK) - Andrej Babiš Jr., son of the Czech billionaire ex-PM, testified in the Stork's Nest (Čapí hnízdo) subsidy fraud trial today, telling the court that he had no clue that his father had transferred the company's shares to him in the late 2000s.

Babiš Jr. said that he had signed a document in the seat of his father's giant Agrofert holding without reading its contents and that he had never held any shares of Čapí hnízdo or any other firm.

He said Babiš Sr. transferred the shares to him without his knowledge, making a strawman of him.

Prosecutors allege that Babiš Sr. 2007 masterminded Farma Čapí hnízdo's withdrawal from Agrofert and the sale of the shares to his children and partner. He did it so that the company outwardly met the criteria for gaining a CZK 50-million subsidy designated for small and medium-sized firms, the prosecutor says.

Babiš Jr. said he had signed a document in the presence of Agrofert financial director Petra Procházková. He said he is not sure whether his sister Andrea Bobeková was present on that occasion.

"Ms. Procházková gave me no details about it," he told the Prague Metropolitan Court.

He said he had not read the 20-page document completely, because it contained small letters and financial statements. He said he had signed several pages, five or six.

Asked by the judge, he said he has no clue what type of contract it was and the he was unaware he was becoming a Čapí hnízdo shareholder.

Babiš Jr. also said he had visited the recreation and conference center south of Prague many times. His father invited him to visit it still when it was a ruin. "My father then said he was buying it," he said.

Babiš Jr. arrived at the court proceedings alone on foot, awaited by dozens of reporters. He told them that with the Stork's Nest case, his father made not only a strawman out of him but a fool.

The younger Babiš denied having mental-health troubles, which his father asserted repeatedly.

Babiš Sr. announced in advance that he would not attend his son's testimony. He previously dismissed his son's assertions and said Babiš Jr. suffers from schizophrenia, is not capable of testifying, and has been misused by journalists.

Babiš Jr. is the only member of the ex-PM's family to have decided to testify in the ongoing case. Earlier this week, Babiš's wife Monika, her brother Martin Herodes and Babiš's older daughter from a previous marriage declined to testify and the court had to use their previous brief testimonies.

All four were originally also implicated in the Stork's Nest case, but a couple of years ago the police halted their prosecution. The only still prosecuted and now tried suspects are Babiš Sr. and his former aide Jana Nagyová.

The prosecution says that Babiš Sr. used his influence and activities to fraudulently secure conditions for the recreation center outwardly meeting the criteria for an EU subsidy. He has been charged with assisting in a subsidy fraud.

According to the charges, Babiš Sr. secured the split of the Farma Čapí hnízdo company, then under the name ZZN Agro Pelhřimov (Agro a.s.), from Agrofert and the sale of its shares to his family members in 2007. The shares were paid from Babiš's account, according to prosecutor Jaroslav Saroch.

"The reason for the transfer of shares was to make an expedient and formal impression that Agro a.s. was an independent, separate small or medium-sized firm that was not interlinked with any other company," Saroch wrote.

He said that Babiš Sr. later secured the acquisition of most of the shares by his partner's brother so that the voting rights of his own relatives were limited. The firm thus seemingly met the criteria of an independent enterprise and could seek a CZK-50-million subsidy it would have never reached as a part of Agrofert.

After a couple of years of observing the subsidy conditions, Čapí hnízdo ownership reverted to Agrofert.

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