Former Czech PM’s Stork’s Nest case enters final phase

The main trial in the EU subsidy fraud case involving former Prime Minister and current presidential candidate Andrej Babiš, – accused of falsely creating the impression that the Stork’s Nest company, which was connected to Babiš’s conglomerate Agrofert, met grant conditions as a small or medium-sized business to fraudulently acquire around €2 million in EU subsidies – has entered its final phase.

The state attorney in the prosecution case against the now-opposition politician and ANO party leader Andrej Babiš who stands accused of EU fraud, has on Thursday proposed a three-year suspended sentence and a fine of €415,000.

The chief prosecutor likewise proposed a suspended sentence for Babiš’s former aide, Jana Nagyová, along with a fine of €20,000.

Babiš and Nagyová stand accused of fraud for falsely creating the impression that the Stork’s Nest company, which was connected to Babiš’s conglomerate Agrofert, met grant conditions as a small or medium-sized business, in order to fraudulently acquire around €2 million in EU subsidies.

The former prime minister’s son, Andrej Babiš Jr., is also involved in the case and is now testifying against his father. Babiš Sr. tried unsuccessfully to ensure that his son, who has been diagnosed with a mental disorder, could not testify in court.

On Thursday, Judge Jan Šott announced he would probably hand down his decision on Monday.

The trial follows a seven-year investigation and is at the centre of media attention in view of the fact that Andrej Babiš is one of the hot candidates in the presidential race. According to pre-election models, together with former NATO military committee chairman Petr Pavel and economist Danuše Nerudová, he has the best chance of advancing to the second round out of nine candidates.

Czechs will choose Miloš Zeman’s successor for the presidential seat on 13 and 14 January, the second round is scheduled for two weeks later.

(Ondřej Plevák | EURACTIV.cz)

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