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EU Audit Confirm Czech PM Babiš in Conflict of Interest

A European Commission audit confirmed the billionaire Czech prime minister has a conflict of interest over alleged ties to his business empire.

The European Commission said on Friday it had sent the audit results to the Czech authorities but said the contents were confidential as the audit procedure was ongoing.

Companies in the Agrofert group, the core of Babiš’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.

The final version of the report confirmed preliminary findings disclosed in May, in which the European Union‘s executive arm declared that Andrej Babis has maintained ties to businesses he founded while influencing decisions that could have affected EU subsidies they would have received.

Babiš has repeatedly rejected conflict-of-interest allegations, saying he complied with the law by placing his chemical, agriculture and media conglomerate Agrofert in trusts before taking power in 2017.

The Czech Ministry of Local Development said Sunday the report is classified and the process isn’t finished. Czech authorities will have two months to send their response and comments on the audit, the ministry said in a statement.

Babiš has vowed to contest any conflict-of-interest allegations and argued that Czech legal opinion differs from the preliminary findings of the EU’s audit. He has also said the country won’t have to return any subsidies.

A spokesman for the Czech Regional Development Ministry, which is in charge of handling the audit, said that the report had been received.

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