Paris is investigating Andrej Babis over laundering and tax evasion

French authorities are investigating Andrej Babis, the Czech Republic’s former prime minister,  for suspected money laundering related to a $22 million property deal exposed last fall by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists’ Pandora Papers investigation. The appearance of Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis’ name in the Pandora Papers – a collaborative investigation into the offshore industry by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) – had already caused him to lose elections and his position in October 2021.

According to the leaked records, in late 2009, Babis injected $22 million into a British Virgin Islands company he owned called Blakey Finance Ltd. The funds were then transferred to a Babis company registered in Washington, D.C., that forwarded the funds to a Monaco subsidiary, SCP Bigaud.

Babiš denied he had done anything wrong or illegal and said that the revelations were targeting his reelection campaign, which later failed.

French investigators are now focusing on how Babiš acquired his €14 million property in the billionaire haven of Mougins, which was purchased via a Monaco-based company owned by an offshore entity in the U.S.

The entire setup was allegedly hidden from French authorities and could constitute money laundering and a tax evasion scheme, Le Monde reported.

Karel Hanzelka, a spokesman for Babiš’s group Agrofert, said that “all our transactions took place in a perfectly legal manner and we paid all the required taxes.”

This is not the only case in which the former prime minister is being held accountable. Mr. Babis, the country’s fifth richest man, is also accused of having benefited from two million euros of European funds theoretically reserved for small and medium-sized enterprises. The billionaire is due to appear in court on September 12 for this case, known as the “Stork’s Nest,” named after the luxury hotel complex that benefited from the Brussels subsidies.

These court proceedings do not prevent the former prime minister and current member of parliament from criss-crossing the country to campaign for the 2023 presidential election, even though he is not yet an official candidate. A campaign trail marked by demonstrations and tension between his opponents and supporters.

Article by Prague Forum

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