French court evaluates whether Babiš guilty of tax evasion

The French Court for the Investigation of Serious Criminal Activities has opened a preliminary investigation into suspicions of money laundering and tax evasion in connection with the purchase of real estate in France by former Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babiš, French newspaper Le Monde reported on Friday. The court is investigating the circumstances under which Mr Babiš acquired two properties, including a lavish villa with extensive land in Mougins in southern France. The properties cost 14 million euros. According to the newspaper, Babiš made the purchases in September 2009 through a chain of offshore companies.

The French media started looking into Babiš's assets last autumn after the leak of the so-called Pandora Papers, confidential documents that revealed that many heads of state and government were hiding their assets behind offshore companies in tax havens. According to Le Monde, the Pandora Papers were the primary reason that Mr Babiš was not successful in last year's parliamentary elections and lost his position as prime minister.

In a statement to the Czech New Agency on Friday, Mr Babiš repeated his earlier claim that all real estate purchases that he made in France were executed in accordance with the law.

Author: Anna Fodor