Pandora Papers investigation reveal Czech PM's suspicious financial dealings

The Czech Prime Minister sent CZK 400 million through a convoluted system of offshore companies when buying luxury French properties.

ČTK

Written by ČTK
Published on 04.10.2021 09:02 (updated on 04.10.2021)

Prague, Oct 3 (CTK) – Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babiš sent almost CZK 400 million to himself via offshore companies, with which he bought real estate on the French Riviera. Experts claim the transactions bear the hallmarks of money laundering, Investigace.cz, part of the Pandora Papers global project, has revealed. Babis denies the allegations.

The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) is responsible for the Pandora Papers project.

Babis (ANO) denies having done anything unlawful, saying the report is an attempt to defame him and influence the upcoming general election.

Investigace.cz writes than in July 2009, Babiš, with the aid of the DB Artwell Avocats French law firm and the Alcogal legal office in Panama, anonymously and discreetly established firms with straw men acting as directors.

"Four months later, he used this structure to transfer €15 million euros from one firm into another. He thereby provided a loan for himself for the purchase of 16 luxury properties in France, including the Bigaud Chateau in the French Riviera," it was claimed.

Investigace.cz also claims Babiš faces investigation not only in France, but also in the USA and in the Czech Republic over the transaction.

"It is clear that I did nothing illegal or wrong, but this does not prevent them from attempting to defame me and thus influence the Czech parliamentary elections (to be held on October 8-9),” Babis said, pointing out that the case is now 12 years old.

"It is the same before any elections. They dig up something from the distant past, only for it to come out eventually that nothing happened," he added. Babiš also noted that the case occurred before he entered politics.

More than 300 Czechs, including an ex-minister, local politicians, a criminal, a banker, media and real estate moguls, arms dealers and the richest people in the country are implicated by the Pandora papers. Except for Babis, individual names have not yet been released.

“No normal business transaction would ever look like this,” former financial crime investigator Kamil Kouba, a consultant for fighting financial crime, told Investagace.cz. “This scheme seems to me like from a textbook for investigators. It even has an English name: Loan back,” he added.

It is not apparent from the analyzed documents what the source of the money was.

Revelations from the Pandora Papers are based on leaked documents from the Panama-based Alcogal legal office gained by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists. Now, the project includes almost 12 million documents from 14 legal offices now. More than 600 journalists from over 100 countries participated in the project. 

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