State Agricultural Intervention Fund suspends subsidies in wake of EC audits
The State Agricultural Intervention Fund (SZIF) will suspend all further subsidy payments for Agrofert group projects approved after February 2017, when Prime Minister Andrej Babiš transferred the group to trust funds in order to comply with a new Czech conflict of interest law, the head of the State Agricultural Intervention Fund Martin Šebestyán said in response to a second preliminary audit by the European Commission on Thursday. He confirmed that between 2012 and April 2019 the fund paid out 6.5 billion crowns to Agrofert companies.
The State Agricultural Intervention Fund will also suspend all further money to the Agrotrade company run by the brother and father of Agriculture Minister Miroslav Toman of the Social Democrats. The head of the fund said the steps were being taken as a precautionary measure in connection with the findings of the European Commission’s second preliminary audit relating to agricultural subsidies.
The second report also states that Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babiš has a conflict of interest, though it does not say how much EU funds the Czech Republic may have to return as a result. According to the Czech media a considerable part of the report is also devoted to Agriculture Minister Miroslav Toman, whose family runs an agricultural business.
According to the head of the State Agricultural Intervention Fund the EC audit does not specifically state that Minister Toman has a conflict of interests but the Czech Republic has been asked to explain certain matters of procedure in connection with the case.