A Czech prosecutor says the case of the billionaire prime minister who is being probed for conflict of interest as an entrepreneur and politician has been sent to the new EU prosecutor’s office.
The independent, Luxembourg-based European Public Prosecutor’s Office (EPPO) was launched on 1 June. It will investigate fraud, corruption and money laundering involving the EU budget.
It is headed by Romania’s former anti-corruption prosecutor Laura Codruta Kovesi who gained the reputation of a fearless fighter against corruption and successfully prosecuted hundreds of officials in Romania.
The newly created EU office began work on Tuesday. It will have time to scrutinize hundreds of billions of euros of Covid recovery spending about to sprayed across the bloc.
“Concerning your query, report forms on two matters have been sent to the newly established EPPO,” Czech prosecutor Boris Havel told French news agency, AFP, Euronews reported.
The European Commission said in an audit report in April that the prime minister had a conflict of interest in his dual role as prime minister and the owner of the Agrofert food, chemicals and media holding.
Mr Babiš, who of the richest people in the Czech Republic denies wrongdoing.
He reacted to allegations in the European Commission’s final audit report, calling it “scandalous that some Brussels officer dares to interpret Czech law, Euractiv reported.
He claimed the audit was “manipulated.”
He has insisted he transferred Agrofert to two trust funds in February 2017, when he was finance minister. But publicly available documents show he is still Agrofert’s beneficial owner.
Brussels has now halted all payments related to subsidies paid to the agrochemicals conglomerate over recent years and demanded it return funds received after February 2017/. That is about 11 million euros.
The creation of the new office isn’t universally backed across the 27-member bloc. Hungary and Poland say they will not participate in the newly established EU prosecutor’s office.
Babis’ government survived a no-confidence vote on Thursday over the alleged fraud and his government’s handling of the pandemic. The country holds parliamentary elections in November.