The Czech Republic will pay CZK 85 million for errors in subsidies, including Babiš’s conflict of interest

Petr Horník

The European Commission has fined the Czech Republic more than CZK 85 million for errors in agricultural subsidies. The Czech Republic is to pay roughly CZK 1.1 million for this particular error. 

“I can confirm that the Commission’s implementing decision on the audit investigation, which has been ongoing since 2019, has been published,” Luďka Raimondová, head of the press department of the State Agricultural Intervention Fund (SZIF), said.

“The implementing decision informs us about the exclusion of certain expenses. The excluded expenses include a subsidy provided for a project investigated due to a conflict of interest,” Raimondová added.

The Czech Republic can appeal the decision to the EU Court of Justice within two months.

For example, the agriculture ministry did so this year because of a CZK 1.15 billion fine imposed by the EC for nearly five-year-old errors in the distribution of subsidies.

“The Fund has worked out options for further action. It is now awaiting the approval of a specific option according to which it will proceed,” Raimondová said of the new sanction.

The audit on Babiš’s conflict of interest occurred in the Czech Republic in early 2019. The former prime minister has long denied wrongdoing. The Agrofert concern, which Babiš has placed in trust funds, also disagrees with the conflict of interest.

SZIF suspended projects of Agrofert subsidiaries worth about half a billion crowns because of the audit. European subsidies were supposed to cover about two-fifths of the costs.