Ex-Czech PM Andrej Babis acquitted in fraud case - Prague News
by IANS | Updated Jan 10, 2023
Prague Municipal Court judge Jan Sott ruled that neither individual was proven to have criminal liability in the matter, reports Xinhua news agency.
However, the public prosecutor can still appeal the decision.
Babis, one of the Czech Republic's most prominent businessmen and politicians, was accused of subsidy fraud by receiving about 2 million eurosin European Union (EU) funds earmarked for small and medium-sized businesses to build a resort known as the Stork's Nest, south of Prague, over a decade ago.
The judge ruled that the esort had been properly separated from Agrofert, Babis' business conglomerate, and did not compete with it in a relevant market, therefore it qualified as a small-to-medium-sized business in relation to the subsidies.
It was also found that the company was not separated from Agrofert with the sole intention of acquiring these funds.
Had he been found guilty, public prosecutor Jaroslav Saroch, who handled the case, proposed a three-year suspended sentence with a five-year probation and a fine of 10 million Czech crowns for Babis.
Nagyova would have faced a half-a-million crown fine.
"Not guilty! I am very happy that we have an independent judiciary and the court has confirmed what I have argued from the beginning: that I am innocent and have done nothing illegal," Babis said in a tweet late Monday.
The former Prime Minister has said that the criminal proceedings arose after he entered politics, arguing that the allegations against him were "politically motivated."
Babis, also leader of the Action of Dissatisfied Citizens (ANO), the largest single party in the country's lower house of Parliament, announced his presidential bid in October last year.
He is considered a front-runner in the presidential elections set for January 13-14.
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