Saturday, 19 August 2017

Babiš says police request for his release is political struggle

ČTK |
11 August 2017

Prague, Aug 10 (CTK) - Czech government ANO movement head Andrej Babis wrote to CTK today that the police request for the Chamber of Deputies to release him for prosecution is a political struggle, a long planned thing aimed at preventing him form running in the October 20-21 general election.

He wrote that the whole thing is manipulated and that there was never any corruption in the Capi hnizdo (Stork Nest) farm case.

"It does not surprise me at all. I expected they will want to catch me on anything before the election. It is a political struggle, nothing else. I have heard in Prague since January 2016 that something is being prepared on me. It is a long premeditated action," Babis, currently on a holiday in Italy, wrote.

He wrote that "there is no corruption scandal as someone would like to present it. It is the last desperate attempt by the corrupt system to liquidate me and a long-time planned operation to criminalise me and to prevent me from running in the October 2017 elections," Babis wrote.

Babis's ANO is a favourite of the general election.

He wrote that he does not comprehend why the Capi hnizdo project is investigated now if it comes from 2008.

Babis wrote that the project was repeatedly controlled during the terms of Central Bohemian governors Petr Bendl (Civic Democrats, ODS) and David Rath (formerly Social Democrats, CSSD) as well as Miroslav Kalousek (TOP 09) at the Finance Ministry.

"Control bodies have never said there was any mistake in granting the subsidy," Babis wrote.

"No one profited from the project, there was no corruption, on the contrary, it has long been a loss-making project that serves the public," Babis wrote.

The police asked the Chamber of Deputies for release of Babis and Jaroslav Faltynek, ANO deputy group head, for prosecution today.

Stepanka Zenklova, spokeswoman for the Prague Municipal State Attorney'S Office, told CTK that the request is connected with the Capi hnizdo subsidy.

Until 2007, the Farma Capi hnizdo company belonged to Babis's Agrofert Holding. Afterwards, its stake was transferred to bearer shares for a small firm to reach a 50-million-crown EU subsidy, which a firm of the huge Agrofert Holding could never get. It observed this condition for a few years, but later it again returned to Babis's concern.

Billionaire businessman Babis transferred the Agrofert concern, including some media outlets, to trust funds in February to comply with an amended conflict of interest law.

Babis said at a special lower house session initiated by the opposition that his adult children and a brother of his common-law wife (whom he married recently) owned the bearer shares of the farm in 2008-2010 when the firm gained the subsidy.

Faltynek has held managerial posts in Agrofert since 2001.

($1=22.301 crowns)

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