Monday, 19 August 2019

Police check subsidy for Babiš' Čapí hnízdo resort

31 December 2015

Prague, Dec 30 (CTK) - The Czech police started checking a 50-million-crown subsidy from the European funds supporting tourism granted to the Capi hnizdo resort of the Agrofert holding owned by Finance Minister Andrej Babis (ANO), news server has written.

The prospering Agrofert is suspected of deliberately applying for the subsidy as an unknown firm in order to win the subsidy, the server writes.

The Capi Hnizdo (The Stork´s Nest) is a luxurious resort 50 kilometres south of Prague. Shortly before the subsidy application was filed in 2008, Agrofert issued bearer shares and hid the real owner. Only in 2014, when bearer shares were banned by a new law, Agrofert became the official owner again and made Capi hnizdo a part of its subsidiary Imoba, Aktualne writes.

The EU subsidy was to be given to small and medium-sized businesses that were active in tourism for at least two years. If the Capi hnizdo "farm" had been presented as part of Agrofert, it might not have won the subsidy, the server writes.

Babis said previously he believed that no mistake had been made in the subsidy application.

The criminal complaint over the controversial subsidy for Capi hnizdo was filed in November. The state attorney concluded that the complaint may be justified and handed the case to the police shortly before Christmas, Aktualne writes.

"The complaint is being checked by detectives from the economic crime department over the suspected crimes of a subsidy fraud and harming the financial interests of the EU," Prague police spokesman Tomas Hulan said.

"Prosecution has not been launched," he said.

Babis claims that the project was implemented in accordance with the law and subsidy rules.

He said the project had been repeatedly checked and even a special check ordered by the European Commission was made.

A few years ago, Babis did not admit that he owned the resort.

"I don´t know who is the owner," Babis told weekly Respekt in 2013. He said then he merely lent 400 million crowns for the farm´s construction.

Capi hnizdo was completed four years ago. The resort is promoted as a place for conferences, corporate and social events that offers luxury accommodation, fine cuisine, horse riding, a wellness centre, sports activities and a small zoo. The resort is best known for the riding school building that is designed as a giant stork´s nest.

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