Former Czech Prime Minister Babis indicted in fraud case

PRAGUE (AP) — Czech Former Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis will face trial after the prosecution indicted him in a fraud case involving European Union subsidies.

The move announced on Monday by Prague’s public prosecution office came weeks after lawmakers in the lower house of the Czech Parliament agreed on March 3 to lift Babis’ immunity from prosecution for his alleged involvement in the $2 million fraud.

That decision allowed the prosecutors to complete their review of the case and go ahead with Babis’ indictment. It was repeatedly recommended by police investigators.

Babis, a populist billionaire, denies any wrongdoing and has repeatedly said the allegations against him were politically motivated.

“I’ve never done anything illegal, in the past or in politics,” Babis said on Monday. “I’ll prove it at the court.”

The prosecution said Prague’s Municipal Court will take over the case. A date for the trial has not been immediately set.

The allegations involve a farm that received EU subsidies after its ownership was transferred from the Babis-owned Agrofert conglomerate of around 250 companies to Babis’ family members. Later, Agrofert again took ownership of the farm.

The subsidies were meant for medium- and small-sized businesses, and Agrofert wouldn’t have been eligible for them.

Lawmakers twice before lifted Babis’ immunity from prosecution in the case that dates to 2007. The prosecutors had to ask them to do it again following October’s parliamentary election.

Babis’ ANO (YES) political movement lost the election. A coalition of five parties formed a new government, and ANO ended up in opposition.

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