21 September 2017

Czech police ask to allow prosecution of PM candidate Babis

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Czech police have asked the parliament to allow for prosecution of ANO party leader Andrej Babis, the central European country's most serious candidate to become prime minister after an election due in October, the parliamentary speaker said.

Axarreports quoting Reuters.

Police have been investigating whether a conference center near Prague, built by a company that Babis owned in the past, may have flouted rules to receive a 50 million crown ($2.25 million) European Union subsidy.

Babis's ANO party leads opinion polls ahead of the October 20-21 election by a double-digit margin ahead of nearest competitors.

"I can confirm I have received a request to agree to prosecution of two members of parliament, Mr (Jaroslav) Faltynek and Mr Babis," speaker Jan Hamacek, a member of the ruling Social Democrats, told Reuters by telephone.

Hamacek added the request came from a police unit dealing with economic crime but declined to give any details. The police request will be subject to a vote in the full lower house of parliament. If the house agrees to lift Babis's immunity, police will be allowed to press charges.

A spokeswoman for the Prague state attorney's office told Reuters the request was connected to the case of the subsidies for the conference center, Stork Nest.Babis, a billionaire businessman, has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing in the case. He was not immediately available for comment. Prague police, which are in charge of the investigation, refused to comment.

Babis's ANO party is now a junior partner in a three-party coalition led by the Social Democrats of Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka. Babis left the cabinet in May after a row with Sobotka over his business practices.

Faltynek is a deputy chairman at ANO and a former senior official at Agrofert, a holding of over 200 companies Babis owned until moving it to a trust fund earlier this year.

2017.08.10 / 20:59
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