For Czech Prime Minister Lady Babi, the timing of the Pandora Papers couldn’t have been worse.
Documents detailing the financial dealings of world leaders in offshore tax havens include the revelation that Babi used a complex structure of offshore companies when he bought tens of millions of euros of assets in France in 2009.
Babiš is accused of giving money through three different companies to buy luxury properties including a chateau on the French Riviera for £13 million.
With the Czech parliamentary elections scheduled for October 8-9, Babi now risks becoming the first victim of the Pandora Papers’ revelations.
NS latest election The Czechs have performed hard in the election race. Babi’s ANO party is now projected to win 25.2 percent of the vote, while the SPOLU opposition coalition is at 20.9 percent.
The furious reaction to the Pandora letters could further weaken Babik’s position.
“How intensely the Czech authorities have tried to investigate the Pandora Papers will show the extent to which the Czech state has been ‘occupied’ by Babi and his men,” The editor-in-chief of a leading anti-Babik news portal said. Meanwhile, a Slovak newspaper said, “The way they used it, the scheme is one of the most popular among terrorists, drug and arms smugglers and corrupt politicians.”
talking to Granthshala, Opposition Pirate Party MEP Mikulas Pexa claimed that “the Pandora Papers show why Lady Babi did not support efforts for transparency and to fight against corruption and tax evasion”.
Populist babik used a televised debate last night protest his innocence, saying that the allegations are part of a conspiracy to oust him from power, and that the events in question took place long before he entered politics.
But one financial crime expert said “any normal business practice would look nothing like this”, noting signs of money laundering practices in Babiq’s suspicious series of transactions.
Although it is believed that the complex payment method did not give Babi any significant advantages in terms of tax avoidance, he did not announce the existence of his foreign companies to the Czech authorities.
The leader of the ANO party can therefore be fined for failing to mention foreign assets. But it is believed he could face an even more severe punishment, including being stripped of his properties by French authorities or being investigated in the United States, where a company was based.
In fact, if the Czech police find the nature of Babi’s business dealings particularly suspicious, he may even be the subject of a domestic investigation. The Czech National Organized Crime Center has already said that it will investigate information about Babi contained in the Pandora Papers.
Still, it will be nothing new for the controversial Czech leader.
Babiš is already the subject of a long-running police investigation into the “stork’s nest” case of alleged EU subsidy fraud. He is accused of transferring a company from his Agrofert group in 2008 to enable it to receive substantial EU funding.
Babi’s own son has testified to the police against him in the Stork’s Nest case, also claiming that his father had kidnapped him and used Crimea to prevent him from testifying during the first round of the police investigation in the case. peninsula was sent.
Babik denies his son’s allegations, claiming that he suffers from schizophrenia and that his evidence cannot be relied upon – something which Babik Jr. denies.
Meanwhile the Czech leader’s current relationship with the giant Agrofurt group has come under intense scrutiny. Babi’s former business empire was transferred to a trust fund just before he became prime minister in 2017.
But an independent EU audit earlier this year said they “definitely” have a conflict of interest because of their continued “direct” and “indirect” impact on the company, including with some of the biggest media companies in the Czech Republic— It also includes important agriculture. real estate and chemical industry property.
As a result of the audit, the European Union declared that all subsidies given to Agrofert since Babi came to power in 2017 were in contravention of a law against conflicts of interest.
Babi’s opponents find many reasons to distrust the Slovak-born billionaire and the fifth richest man in the Czech Republic. Among them is his rumored membership of the STB, the Czechoslovak secret police, before the fall of communism in the country in 1989.
Babiq has always denied any involvement with STB. Yet with the country’s current president, Milos Zeman, he is seen by many as a hangover of the twentieth century in which Western democratic values were given little respect.
Benjamin Roll, president of the Million Moments for Democracy campaigning organization, said: “These elections will decide whether the ‘capture of the state’ will proceed under the leadership of oligarch Lady Babi and pro-Kremlin President Milos Zeman.” Granthshala.
“More and more important institutions are being controlled by Agrofert, which should be stopped. Our country stands at a crossroads,” he said.
Last weekend, Mr Roll’s organization carried out a stunt in which various important public buildings and monuments in the Czech Republic were surrounded with fake police tapes bearing the words “seized by ANO-Fert”, a name for Babi’s political party. There was drama and business group.
Indeed, for the Czech opposition, Babi’s biggest crime is to treat the Czech state like another part of his business empire.
Czech Pirate Party leader Ivan Bartos recently portrayed Babi as “a business hunter who went into politics,” an “entrepreneur who decided to treat the state like a company”.
And the final irony of Babi’s controversies—including allegations of ownership of his foreign assets—is that his ANO party was originally…
Credit: www.independent.co.uk /