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Repay or resign! S&Ds demand strong action against Czech PM Andrej Babiš’ conflict of interest

Date

19 May 2021

Sections

InfoSociety

The Socialists and Democrats call for swift and strong measures in the case of the conflict of interest of Czech prime minister Andrej Babiš. In a debate in the European Parliament, the S&Ds demanded that all payments to Babiš’ company be stopped and the remaining investigation concluded.

Lara Wolters MEP, S&D negotiator on the file, said:

“Our Group strongly opposes any case of corruption, fraud or conflict of interests in member states. Tax payers’ money must be used for projects we all believe in and not to line the pockets of those who have plenty. Otherwise, we will undermine our shared European goals as well as citizens’ trust. 

“We welcome the Commission’s final audit report identifying a conflict of interest for the Czech prime minister with his Agrofert conglomerate. We call on the Commission to ensure all payments to Agrofert are halted and to swiftly conclude the remaining investigation into the Czech prime minister's conflict of interest. Babiš should resolve the identified conflict of interest immediately. He has a choice: stop funnelling European subsidies to his companies and cut ties with his businesses, or step back as a member of the European Council - which means resigning as prime minister. The Commission on the other hand should investigate triggering the rule of law conditionality mechanism, if Czech authorities do not act to stop the conflict of interest and protect the EU budget.”

Note to editors:

At the end of April 2021, the Commission (DG REGIO and DG EMPL) released its final audit report which confirms the conflict of interest charges against the Czech prime minister, Andrej Babiš. This report is the result of an audit process on EU subsidies granted to Agrofert Group, an agricultural conglomerate founded by Andrej Babiš.  The audit concluded the prime minister was still the beneficial owner of Agrofert despite having placed his assets into trust funds.  Meanwhile, his position as prime minister allowed him to exercise influence over the allocation of EU funds.

As a result, Babiš was found to be in violation of the Czech Conflict of Interests Act and the EU Financial Regulation. The payments awarded by the Czech authorities, pre-approved under EU subsidies (European Regional Development Fund and European Social Fund grants), Agrofert has received since September 2017 need to be repaid.

In December 2018, the Commission stopped EU grants related to the audit area to the Agrofert group while the EU Commission’s formal investigation into the Czech PM’s conflict of interest has been ongoing since January 2019. In June 2020, following the reopening of the case regarding the misuse of EU funds by Andrej Babiš, the Parliament issued a resolution calling the Commission and the Council to give clear answers and commitments with regard to this unacceptable situation of conflict of interest.

 

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