In response to the European anti-fraud office’s (Olaf) recent enquiry into an EU subsidy to the Capi hnizdo firm, the Czech Agrofert company has filed a complaint with the European ombudsman and the EU Court of Justice. The news was announced on January 2 by Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis, who is also Agrofert’s former owner.
Babis was speaking to reporters after a meeting with President Milos Zeman in the presidential chateau in Lany.
As reported by the Prague Daily Monitor, the Czech police levelled accusations against Babis over a 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 in late December.
Babis said he has not read Olaf’s report. He said he expects Agrofert to receive the report and comment on it.
“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,” Babis said.
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, dismissing allegations that the subsidy was stolen.
“No one definitely stole anything. The 50 million crowns have been invested in the [Stork Nest] farm, no corruption was involved,” said Babis.
According to the Prague Daily Monitor, the Farma Capi hnizdo company belonged to Babis’s Agrofert Holding concern until 2007. Afterwards, its stake was transferred to bearer shares for a small firm to reach a 50m-crown EU subsidy, which a firm of Agrofert Holding could never get. It observed this condition for a few years, but later it again returned to Babis’s Agrofert.
In related news, the Prague Municipal State Attorney’s Office has recommended that Olaf’s report should not be released as it could endanger the ongoing Czech criminal proceedings.