No reason not to believe Babiš in dispute with European Commission, says justice minister

The minister of justice, Marie Benešová, says she sees no reason not to believe Prime Minister Andrej Babiš in his dispute with the European Commission, which says in a preliminary audit that he is in conflict of interest.

Speaking on TV station Prima, the minister said it was too soon to discuss possible damages stemming from the forced return of EU subsidies paid out to Agrofert, a company Mr. Babiš placed in trust funds, as the Commission has not issue a final version of the report.

Ms. Benešová said the prime minister had fulfilled legal requirements by putting Agrofert in trust funds.

The minister is seen as loyal to Mr. Babiš and there have been a series of protests demanding her removal since her appointment just over a month ago.

In a separate matter from the alleged conflict of interest, the police have recommended that Mr. Babiš face criminal charges of abusing CZK 50 million in EU subsidies in connection with a hotel and conference centre near Prague. Critics fear that Ms. Benešová may attempt to influence the case.

Author: Ian Willoughby