Daily news summary
Police suspect Stork’s Nest Farm of serious tax evasion
The police have started a criminal investigation into the financial management of the Stork’s Nest Farm and Hotel Complex, which is part of the Agrofert conglomerate established by Prime Minister Andrej Babiš, the news site Neovlivni.cz reported on Tuesday citing police spokeswoman Eva Kropáčkova.
According to Neovlivni, the police suspect the firm of extensive tax evasion. Agrofert spokesman Karel Hazelka said the management of the conglomerate had received no information on the case, but ruled out any financial irregularities at the firm.
Police earlier concluded an investigation into the Stork’s Nest Farm in connection with suspected EU subsidy fraud and proposed that Prime Minister Andrej Babiš be charged. The state attorney’s office dealing with the case has not yet reached any conclusion.
Prime Minister Andrej Babiš who established the multi-billion crown agro-chemical empire put it into trust funds two years ago in order to meet a strict new conflict of interest law.
PM and Soc Dem leader seek early meeting with president over gov crisis
Prime Minister Andrej Babiš and Social Democrat leader Jan Hamáček have requested a meeting with President Miloš Zeman to try to resolve the protracted crisis surrounding the change-of-guard at the Culture Ministry.The date proposed is next week, despite the fact that the president will still be holidaying at his country cottage at the time.
The Social Democrat leadership on Monday confirmed Michal Šmarda as the party’s nominee for culture minister and gave party leader Hamáček a stronger mandate in talks with the president and prime minister.
The party has been threatening to quit the government if the president refuses to accept its nominee for culture minister and has urged the prime minister to put pressure on the president to do his constitutional duty and appoint the man of their choice.
ČEZ to explore possibilities of lithium mining at Cínovec
The ČEZ power utility, which is 70% owned by the state, will explore the possibilities of lithium mining at Cínovec in the Ore Mountains.
The company will give European Metals Holdings (EMH), which has a prospecting license to mine lithium in the area, a loan of two million euros (51.2 million CZK) and by the end of the year, decide whether to enter the company or have the loan returned.
The Czech Republic has the biggest lithium reserves in Europe and many politicians have pushed for lithium mining in the country to be in the hands of a state-run company.
Observatories preparing for partial lunar eclipse
Observatories in the Czech Republic will remain open in the night hours on Tuesday night to enable the public to view the expected partial lunar eclipse due to start at 11.30pm.
If observation conditions are good people would also be able to glimpse the planets Jupiter and Saturn and a trace of the Milky Way. The partial eclipse should be visible from across Europe, Asia, Australia, Africa and the US.
The next partial lunar eclipse is due to take place early next year.
Bisnode: Record number of Czech firms leaving tax havens
There are now 12,400 Czech companies based in tax havens, the fewest since 2011, after a record 405 moved operations this year, the consultancy Bisnode says.
Many tax havens have largely ceased to perform their core functions, namely securing their owners’ anonymity and tax optimization, accord to the consultancy.
A total of 157 Czech firms left the Netherlands this year and 147 left the United States. Dozens also moved their headquarters from Cyprus (36 companies), Luxembourg (32) and the British Virgin Islands (22).
Bisnode estimates that only 2.47 percent of Czech firms are now controlled from tax havens. It says destinations such as Hong Kong and the United Arab Emirates are increasingly popular.
Ostrava steelworks’ new owner Liberty to cut production 20 pct
Liberty Ostrava, the largest integrated steel mill in the Czech Republic, has announced plans to temporarily cut steel production by 20 percent.
The company said the move involved reducing the pace of production and would not affect its 6,000 employees.
When Liberty Ostrava took over the steelworks from ArcelorMittal this year, its billionaire owner Sanjeev Gupta pledged not to cut production or close the plant.
The company now says the temporary cut is necessary to due rising costs for raw material and CO2 allowances.
Czech union leaders had claimed that Liberty House’s plans for the developing the steelworks were unsustainable and inconsistent with EU requirements.
Wednesday should be partly cloudy to overcast with day temperatures between 22 and 26 degrees Celsius.