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Opposition wants audit report released, PM´s possible resignation

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Czech PM Andrej Babis (ANO) should either resign as prime minister or sell his firms if the European Commission (EC) audit confirms that he is in a conflict of interest, opposition TOP 09 chairwoman Marketa Pekarova Adamova said on Twitter today.

According to sources of the weekly Respekt, the audit report, which the EC sent to the Czech Republic on Friday, concluded that Babis was in a conflict of interest and violated both Czech and European law. The Regional Development Ministry confirmed today that it has obtained the report.

Pekarova Adamova said the permanent dealing with the question whether the prime minister was misusing his took attention away from major problems that the country is facing.

TOP 09 MEP Jiri Pospisil called on the Czech government to release the audit report. “The citizens have the right to know whether the Czech Republic will have to return money to Brussels due to Babis,” he tweeted.

The opposition Pirates also asked for the report to be released. “The ministry must release everything. Money of all of us is at stake,” Pirate leader Ivan Bartos said on Twitter.

However, the Regional Development Ministry is unlikely to release the report. Its spokesman Vilem Frcek said the EC requested confidential treatment because the audit procedure was still underway.

Civic Democrats (right-wing opposition ODS) chairman Petr Fiala said Babis´s conflict of interest seemed clear to him already when Babis entered politics. Fiala said he wants to know now whether the Czech Republic will have to return hundreds of millions to Brussels because of Babis´s greedy drawing of subsidies.

The EC preliminary audit report, which leaked to Czech media in May, concluded that Babis is in a conflict of interest because he still influenced Agrofert, although he transferred it to trust funds in February 2017. The Czech Republic may have to return to the EU budget some 450 million crowns in subsidies paid to Agrofert. Babis has repeatedly dismissed a conflict of interest on his part and asserted that no money will have to be returned.

The EC keeps working on a second audit that concerns direct agricultural subsidies. It should sent its final version to Prague in February 2020 at the latest.

In reaction to the sending of the first audit report to Prague, Babis said today he proceeded in harmony with law when he transferred his Agrofert holding company to a trust fund. He told Czech Television (CT) that the audit was not final.

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