Former Czech PM Andrej Babiš goes on trial in $2m EU subsidy fraud case | Czech Republic

The former Czech prime minister Andrej Babiš has gone on trial in a $2m fraud case allegedly involving EU subsidies.

The case involves a farm known as the Stork’s Nest that allegedly received EU subsidies after its ownership was transferred from the Babiš-owned Agrofert conglomerate of about 250 companies to Babiš family members. Later, Agrofert again took ownership of the farm.

The subsidies were meant for medium and small-sized businesses, and Agrofert, which later returned the subsidies, would not have been eligible for them.

Lawmakers have had to lift Babiš’s immunity from prosecution three times in the course of the case, which dates back to 2007.

Prague’s public prosecution office completed a review of the case in March and went ahead with indicting Babiš, repeatedly recommended by police investigators.

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

He was present at Prague’s municipal court on Monday. His former associate Jana Nagyová is standing trial with him.

The prosecution has asked for suspended sentences and fines to be imposed. It was not immediately clear when a verdict might be issued.

Babiš’s ANO political movement lost the parliamentary election in October. A coalition of five parties formed a new government, and ANO ended up in opposition.

He is currently considering running for the largely ceremonial post of the country’s president.

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