Czech police have asked for Prime Minister Andrej Babis to be charged with fraud, following an investigation into alleged misuse of European Union subsidies, according to a statement released on Monday.
The criminal unit of the Economic Crime Department of the Prague Police has concluded its investigation into the case — known as “Stork’s Nest” — the statement said.
A spokesperson for the Prague Public Prosecutor’s Office said Monday that the office had received the motion to indict two people as well as the investigative file for the case, which it said contained 34,000 pages.
“The Public Prosecutor will now review the files and decide whether to proceed with the indictment, dismiss the charges or find a different solution,” Aleš Cimbala said in the statement.
In a statement to CTK, the Czech state news agency, Babis dismissed the investigation as politically motivated and said “nothing illegal has ever happened.”
Babis has faced public anger — including some of the biggest protests since the 1989 revolution — over the allegations regarding his financial affairs and other issues.
The case is named after the Stork’s Nest leisure complex that is at the heart of the alleged subsidy fraud. Part farm, part conference center with a hotel and sports facilities, the Stork’s Nest resort received EU funding intended for small and medium businesses between 2007 and 2013, according to its current owner, a company called IMOBA, which is part of Babis’ agricultural business empire Agrofert.
The investigation focuses on the ownership of the complex, trying to establish whether it was eligible for the funding.
The property had, in the past, been a part of Agrofert before being spun off into a separate company. It later became part of the Agrofert holding again, public records show.
The EU’s antifraud office OLAF has said in the past that its investigation found “irregularities” in subsidy payments for the property, according to a 2018 statement by the Czech Finance Ministry.
Police first asked for Babis to be charged in the case in 2019, but the case was dropped by the prosecutor. That decision was later overturned by the country’s Prosecutor General Pavel Zeman who said the move to drop the case was premature.
As the owner of Agrofert, Babis was one of the richest business tycoons in the Czech Republic. In 2017, he placed the business into a trust, as required by law in order to remain in his post as finance minister. He became prime minister later that year.
Separate from the Stork’s Nest investigation, an audit by the European Commission has found that Babis breached conflict of interest rules over his control of trust funds linked to Agrofert.
Babis rejected the findings, saying the audit was “manipulated and artificially induced by professional snitches” from the ranks of opposition parties.