Former Czech PM Babis stands trial accused of EU subsidy fraud

by | Sep 12, 2022 | World

Prosecutors allege that Babis illegally tapped the EU subsidy to build a conference centre near Prague.Former Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis has gone on trial over fraud accusations connected to a two million euro ($2m) European Union subsidy that has marred his political career for the past five years.
Prosecutors allege that Babis, owner of a chemicals, farming, food and media empire, now held in a trust, illegally tapped the subsidy to build a conference centre near Prague before he formed his anti-establishment ANO party in 2011.
Babis has denied any wrongdoing and has repeatedly said the case against him is political.
“I am glad all will see this, my arguments against this untrue charge,” Babis said as he entered the court building on Monday, according to Czech Television footage. “It was of course politically motivated criminal investigation.”
Potential presidential hopeful
Babis, 68, is a potential presidential hopeful in an election early next year and still heads parliament’s biggest party even though he sits in opposition after five parties combined in an election last year to remove him from government.
Babis may face a jail term if found guilty, although prosecutors asked for a suspended sentence and a fine. The trial is expected to last into at least mid-October, and any verdict is subject to appeals.
The allegation against Babis, the country’s fifth-richest person on Forbes 2021 list, says he had hidden the ownership of the conference centre and hotel so it would qualify for EU funding meant only for small businesses.
Conflict of interest
Apart from the criminal charges …

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