Friday, 24 May 2019

Minister Babiš not to tell name of conference centre owner

ČTK |
14 March 2016

Prague, March 13 (CTK) - Finance Minister Andrej Babis (ANO) will only disclose the name of the Farma Capi hnizdo conference centre from the time it asked for European subsidies after the investigation into their abuse for it is finished, Babis told the Prima commercial television channel yesterday.
Farma Capi hnizdo (Stork's Nest Farm) is owned by food and media mogul Babis, leader of ANO.
Babis said he wanted to wait until the end of the investigation into the case.
According to the media, Capi hnizdo belonged to Agrofert until 2008. Afterwards, the shares were transferred to bearer shares for the small firm to reach to EU subsidies of some 50 million crowns. It observed this condition for a few years, but later it again returned to Babis's concern.
Because of a mistake in drawing subsidies in 2009, Capi hnizdo was fined 3.6 million crowns, which climbed up to six million with penalties included. In 2012, a big part of the fine was forgiven and the firm only paid 37,000 crowns plus the corresponding penalty.
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.
Babis has denied any wrongdoing, arguing that at the time the application for the subsidy was raised, Agrofert did not own the center.
"I do not want to speak about it now. An investigation is under way there," Babis said.
"There is the fact that the investor came there who did not want to be named," Babis said, adding that he knew who it was.
Babis said he would send a letter with his explanation to all coalition deputies.
He said he appreciated the attitude of Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka (Social Democrats, CSSD) who wanted to wait till the end of the investigation.
The right-wing opposition wants to call a special session of the Chamber of Deputies over the affair.
However, the Communists will not support the effort. Their leader Vojtech Filip said yesterday this was a media rather than economic case.
The opposition Civic Democratic Party (ODS) said Babis had been unable to explain the suspicion that Agrofert gained the subsidy by a fraud.
Some coalition deputies also may support the special session.
"I think the time has come to call a special session of the Chamber of Deputies over the Capi hnizdo issue," Christian Democrats (KDU-CSL) leader Jan Bartosek wrote on Twitter.
Interior Minister Milan Chovanec (CSSD) told Czech Television yesterday he was not satisfied with Babis's explanation. He said Babis should disclose the name of the investor.

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