The audit report published today by the European Commission confirmed that Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babiš is in a conflict of interest.
According to the report, Babiš still controls trust funds in which he transferred Agrofert Holding.
The report thus confirms previously published findings by Czech authorities.
Babiš controls the Agrofert conglomerate — which includes a wide range of companies in the agri-food sector — despite having transferred his assets into two trust funds in 2017 after a Czech transparency law was passed. Subsidies received by companies since February 9, 2017, are, therefore, unjustified.
“Mr. Babiš controls both trust funds and, through these trust funds, also controls the Agrofert group,” the report states, adding that the prime minister has a direct economic interest in the success of Agrofert.
Preliminary findings of the EU audit found that the Czech Republic should return up to 450 million Kc worth of EU funds unlawfully received by Agrofert or companies linked to the conglomerate.
Under the Czech conflict of interest act, subsidies or sweeteners are forbidden for commercial enterprises in which a public official holds a stake of 25 percent or more.
Companies in the Agrofert group, the core of Babis’s assets estimated at $3.5 billion by Forbes, are some of the largest recipients of EU subsidies, both for farming and for investment projects, in the central European country.
They are run by two trust funds since 2017, an arrangement Babis made to meet local law on conflict of interest.