Prague, Czech Republic – Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis (ANO) is in conflict of interest due to his ties to giant conglomerate Agrofert, according to the final draft of a European Commission audit.
Babis has for years been facing investigation by EU and domestic auditors, who suspect him of conflict of interest and EU subsidy fraud.
Although the billionaire Prime Minister denies the allegations, arguing he placed his ownership of Agrofert in 2017 into trust funds to comply with domestic anti-graft legislation (known as Lex Babis), critics argue he retains an indirect control over the giant conglomerate he founded in the 1990s, and through which he made his fortune.
The Premier is one of the richest men in the Czech Republic.
The final conclusions of the EU Commission audit appear to confirm that claim, and the Czech version of the report should be sent to Prague in January, according to the Czech News Agency (CTK), citing several MEPs from the European Parliament’s Audit Committee.
Preliminary findings of the EU audit found that the Czech Republic should return up to 450 million Kc worth of EU funds unlawfully received by Agrofert or companies linked to the conglomerate.
In June, the European Parliament adopted a non-binding resolution calling on the Czech Premier to step down, or sell his business assets and stop receiving public subsidies for Agrofert and its affiliate companies.
“I do not control nor manage Agrofert, which is why I have long and repeatedly claimed that I do not and cannot have a conflict of interest”, Babis stated again on Monday in reaction to the latest developments.
Last year, allegations of fraud and conflict of interest against the Prime Minister – among other grievances – had sparked the largest mass demonstrations since the end of communism in the Czech Republic, with tens of thousands of protesters calling for his resignation.