Police want to charge Czech prime minister Andrej Babiš with fraud

Babiš and his former aide Jana Mayerova could face charges for subsidy fraud related to the Čapí hnízdo (Stork Nest) farm outside of Prague.


Written by ČTK Published on 31.05.2021 15:06:00 (updated on 31.05.2021) Reading time: 3 minutes

Prague, May 31 (ČTK) - The Czech police today proposed that the state attorney file criminal charges against Andrej Babiš and his former aide Jana Mayerova in the Čapí hnízdo (Stork Nest) EU subsidy fraud case, Prague Municipal State Attorney's Office spokesman Aleš Cimbala has announced.

The proposal will be assessed by the supervising state attorney Jaroslav Saroch who can file the charges, halt prosecution or otherwise settle the case.

Mayerova, who uses her maiden surname Nagyova at present, previously said she believed that there had been no breach of law in connection with the construction of the Čapí hnízdo conference and recreation center south of Prague.

Nagyova declined to comment on the affair when contacted by ČTK today.

The PM has repeatedly dismissed any wrongdoing on his part. He reiterated that the cause is artificial and trumped-up. Nothing illegal happened, Babiš told ČTK in reaction to the police's proposal, adding that he believes in the fairness of the judicial system.

I am not surprised anymore. Furthermore, this thing always emerges before elections. It is an artificial and purpose-built pseudo-case that is 14 years old and the investigation has been taking over five years. It was already halted once by the State Attorney. My attitude to it remains unchanged," he wrote.

"The police today submitted the file in the case which the media have labeled Čapí hnízdo, to the state attorney, along with the proposal to file criminal charges. The submitted file has over 34,000 pages and the state attorney will deal with it now so that he can decide on whether to file charges in this case, or halt the prosecution or settle the affair otherwise," Cimbala wrote in a press release.

He said the public will be informed about the attorney's next step via media, but no information would be released before the decision is made.

The Farma Čapí hnízdo firm, which built the conference center south of Prague, originally belonged to Babiš's Agrofert holding. In December 2007, it transformed itself into a joint-stock company with bearer shares, which were owned by Babiš's children and partner. Afterward, it gained a European subsidy worth CZK 50 million crowns for small and medium-sized firms, which it would never have been eligible for as part of Agrofert. A few years later, Farma Čapí hnízdo rejoined Agrofert.

Babiš owned Agrofert until February 2017, when, in his then capacity as finance minister, he placed it in trust funds to comply with the newly amended conflict of interest law.

Originally, the police accused more people in the Čapí hnízdo case, including Babiš's family members and former ANO deputy chairman Jaroslav Faltýnek. Saroch halted the prosecution of Faltýnek and another three people in May 2018.

In 2019, Saroch halted the prosecution of all remaining suspects, including Babiš, although the police proposed that charges be filed against them. Nevertheless, Supreme State Attorney Pavel Zeman in December 2019 ordered the reopening of the prosecution of Babiš and Mayerova, which, he said, had been halted prematurely and unlawfully. He confirmed the definitive end of the prosecution of Babiš's family members.

Pavel Zeman recently announced his resignation as top state attorney as of June 30.

Without identifying its source of information, The Ekonomicky denik server in mid-May wrote that the police investigator in charge of Čapí hnízdo Pavel Nevtípil is leaving the police as of June 1. Prague police spokesman has not confirmed this information.

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