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article imageCzech PM slams EU 'interference' over subsidy misuse

By AFP     Jun 20, 2020 in World

Billionaire Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis on Saturday accused the European Parliament of "interference" after it pressed for mechanisms to stop the misuse of EU subsidies.

Babis is suspected of a clash of interest as the owner of the Agrofert food, chemicals and media holding receiving EU subsidies, and a politician deciding on where the subsidies will end up.

The fourth wealthiest Czech, Babis transferred Agrofert to trust funds in 2017 but data shows he still rakes in profits from the group.

On Friday, European lawmakers called on the European Commission to introduce measures to prevent conflict of interest.

Babis said European lawmakers "incited steps concerning specific criminal proceedings on Czech territory without specific knowledge or evidence.

"I think this can be perceived as proof of political and media pressure on the Czech judiciary and interference in internal affairs," Babis said in a statement published by the CTK news agency.

Babis is also facing police charges over EU subsidy fraud linked to a farm near Prague which he had allegedly taken out of Agrofert to make it eligible for a subsidy for smaller companies.

EU lawmakers also criticised Babis for hate speech targetting a European Parliament delegation which visited Prague in February and which he allegedly refused to meet.

At that time, Babis labelled as "deranged" European lawmaker Monica Hohlmeier, who led the mission of the parliament's Committee on Budgetary Control.

He also called two Czech members of the mission "informers and traitors".

Babis said Friday's parliamentary resolution was inspired by "Czech MEPs who do their best to harm the Czech Republic in Brussels."

Babis leads a minority government comprising his centrist populist ANO movement and the leftwing Social Democrats, which leans on tacit support from the far-left Communists.

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