Prague, January 16: Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis said on Tuesday he would ask lawmakers lift his parliamentary immunity to face allegations of EU subsidy fraud. Police are investigating whether he illegally received a 2 million euro EU subsidy a decade ago by hiding ownership of a farm and conference center. Babis denies wrongdoing.
He was speaking before a parliamentary committee meets on to make a recommendation on whether to lift Babis's immunity from prosecution that he is granted as an elected member of the chamber.
Babis was almost certain to lose a vote of confidence in his minority cabinet, and police are likely to gain authority to investigate him for suspected subsidy fraud.
The energetic Babis remains popular with his message to strengthen the Czech voice in the EU, digitalize government and ease taxes. He calls the investigation, which also targets his wife and grown children, a ploy by adversaries to chase him out of politics, which many Czechs believe is ridden by bribery and favoritism.
“Citizens are not stupid and know it is a political affair ...” he told. “This is a ploy organized by the mafia that had been stealing billions here, for a long time, and I, of course, bother them.”
Babis was accused, that he illegally obtained €2 million in EU subsidies for small businesses by concealing his ownership of a farm and a convention center. In November 2017, Czech police requested that his parliamentary immunity is lifted by the Lower House. He was accused from the crime for the alleged fraud (§212, Criminal Code, 2009) and for wilful damage of the financial interests of the European Union (§ 260, Criminal Code, 2009) in the criminal conspiracy (§ 89, Art.17, Crime Code (the Czechoslovakian Criminal Code,1961)