Commission at the end of last year addressed several suggestions that according to Zdechovského received a group of MEPs in the Czech Republic after a February mission. After a thorough examination of the subsidies linked to fruit orchards, it concluded that some large companies collected subsidies in the order of tens of millions of euros (hundreds of millions of crowns), which were designed for small and medium-sized businesses. Another problematic scheme, according to the EC concerned crop and livestock insurance contributions, which again acquired large companies instead of small or medium-sized enterprises.
“The Commission’s evaluation revealed that this support had already been granted in the past to beneficiaries who had been mistakenly identified by the Czech authorities as small and medium-sized enterprises, even though they were in fact large companies,” the commission said.
A spokesman for the Ministry of Agriculture, in a response sent to ČTK, reminded that The Ministry initiated proceedings against them for allegedly unauthorized subsidies for some companies and already in January 2019 decided to withdraw this support. “Following the subsequent dismissal of some companies, this decision was confirmed by the Minister of Agriculture within the Appeals Commission and the subsidies are recovered. However, agricultural enterprises challenged the final decision of the Minister of Agriculture in a court action, this court proceeding has not yet been completed, “the spokesman added.
The EU has long been interested in Agrofert
The names of the companies concerned were not published by the EU executive. According to Zdechovsky, however in at least two cases these are companies associated with Agrofert.
“I have confirmed that the commission’s investigation concerns companies around Agrofert in at least two cases. I will ask the EC to attend one of the next meetings of the Committee on Budgetary Control provided details of the irregularities detected and the timetable in which it will deal with the Agrofert case several times already, “ MEP told CTK.
EC auditors have been dealing with agrofert for a long time due to the Prime Minister’s ties Andrej Babiš to his former business. Although Babiš invested the holding in trust funds, according to the findings of the EC auditors, it still has an influence on it and is therefore in conflict of interest. The Commission should send a final version of the audit to the Czech Republic in the course of January, on the basis of which it will probably not pay subsidies to companies around Agrofert from the summer of 2018, when stricter EU rules on conflicts of interest have entered into force. The Czechia could thus return up to around 450 million crowns to the EU budget. The prime minister has long rejected claims about his conflict of interest.
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