Thursday, 17 January 2019

High fines imposed over subsidies for Czech deputy PM's centre

ČTK |
10 March 2016

Prague, March 9 (CTK) - The authorities imposed high fines on the Capi hnizdo resort of the Agrofert holding owned by Czech Deputy PM and Finance Minister Andrej Babis (ANO) due to its unauthorised drawing of EU subsidies, the Neovlivni.cz server writes yesterday.
Two audits have shown that part of the subsidy for the luxurious conference centre was paid at variance with rules and they set a fine of six million crowns for it.
Babis has so far claimed that the audits did not reveal any shortcomings in connection with the Capi Hnizdo (The Stork's Nest) resort, situated 50 kilometres south of Prague.
He told CTK yesterday that he had no information about the fine.
The fine was pardoned almost completely in 2012 and Babis's firm paid only a small part of it, the server writes.
"I know nothing about it," Babis told CTK.
However, he told the Saturday issue of Lidove noviny daily that his "farm" had been repeatedly checked and no shortcomings had been found.
The Neovlivni.cz server refers to the audit from 2011. It concludes that the firm drew the subsidy before the invoices for its construction were paid, which was at variance with the rules since the subsidies should be paid retroactively.
Another audit from 2013, worked out by the KPMG for the Finance Ministry, confirmed this stance. It calculated a fine of 3.6 million crowns. The final sum amounted to six million, including penalties.
Neovlivni.cz points out that Agrofert did not admit any mistakes after the first audit in 2011, but it accepted the results of the second audit.
The reasons allegedly was that the Committee of the Regional Council of the Central Bohemia Cohesion Region had pardoned 90 percent of the fine in 2012. Consequently, Agrofert paid 37,000 crowns plus penalty only.
The European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF) launched the official investigation into the circumstances under which Agrofert gained the EU subsidy of 50 million crowns for the construction of the Stork's Nest last year. The Czech police have dealt with the case since January.

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