Transparency International sends the first complaint concerning Andrej Babiš’s conflict of interest
Transparency International Czech Republic (TI) has sent the first of two complaints about Andrej Babiš’s conflict of interest in connection with him being the controlling entity of the Agrofert holding. Černošice municipality will handle the complaint.
Andrej Babiš, Prime Minister of the Czech Republic | source: iDNES.cz
In June 2018, TI drew attention to a document in the Slovak Register of Public Sector Partners (which, unlike the Czech Register of Data on Real Owners, is open to the public) according to which, there are names of the five beneficial owners of Agrofert.
Among them is Andrej Babiš, Prime Minister of the Czech Republic. As a founder and beneficiary of AB private trust I and AB private trust II, his position is so strong that there is a reasonable suspicion that he is also one of the controlling entities of the Agrofert holding, which also includes Londa spol. s r.o., (broadcaster) and MAFRA, a.s. (periodical press publisher) and Stanice O, a.s. (broadcaster).
Pursuant to the Act on Conflict of Interest (159/2006 Coll.), some public officials, including members of the government, are prohibited from being the controlling entity of broadcasters or periodical press publishers. For this reason, TI asserts that an offense has been committed.
Why TI makes two complaints?
The first complaint concerns a violation of the Czech law on conflict of interest in relation to media ownership. If the competent authority finds a violation of the law, Andrej Babiš will have to pay a fine of CZK 250,000. The competent authority for dealing with this offense, the Municipal Office in Černošice, is determined by the permanent residence of Andrej Babiš.
“We have sent the complaint today and we want to give the office the appropriate time and space to thoroughly study all arguments without any external influences. That is why we will publish the full text of the announcement on the transparency.cz website only when we know how the complaint was handled. This is the standard procedure of TI in similar cases,” says Petr Leyer, a TI lawyer.
The second complaint will be addressed to the European Commission in Brussels. TI will focus on the question of the legitimacy of drawing European subsidies by the Agrofert holding.
“The problem is on the European level and concerns everyone. The European Commission has to clearly states whether politicians and their companies can draw EU subsidies. New financial rules are being tightened and this may lead to Agrofert not being able to draw billions in subsidies. Babiš would then have to sell Agrofert completely or leave politics,” adds David Ondráčka, Director of Czech TI and member of the global Board of Transparency International.
“Although Andrej Babiš can once again (falsely) say that this is just a campaign done on purpose, we want to emphasize that the complaints are processed on the basis of extensive legal analysis and that there are reasonable grounds for suspecting violations of both Czech and European regulations. Therefore, it is highly appropriate for the competent authorities to decide on these matters,” adds David Kotora, Head of Fundraising and Communications of TI.
TI Czech Republic director and a member of the global Board of Transparency International
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Transparency International Czech Republic
We map the state of corruption in the Czech Republic and actively contribute to its reduction, as part of Transparency International international network. We involve the civil society, the private sphere and the state sector in a broad debate on good governance.
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The problem is on the European level and concerns everyone. The European Commission has to clearly states whether politicians and their companies can draw EU subsidies. New financial rules are being tightened and this may lead to Agrofert not being able to draw billions in subsidies. Babiš would then have to sell Agrofert completely or leave politics.