Following a largescale operation in close to 60 sites across the Czech
Republic on Tuesday, the police have now charged 23 suspects with tax
evasion and organised crime, the Czech News Agency reports. All except two
of the suspects are currently being held in custody.
Members of the elite National Centre for Combating Organised Crime cooperated with the Czech Customs Administration and ordinary police units in the crackdown, which is connected to suspicions of tax dodging worth hundreds of millions of crowns.
The suspects could face more than 10 years in jail if their connection to organised crime is confirmed.
Police raided a large-scale illegal cigarette factory in the Liberec region
at the weekend and detained a foreign national allegedly running it on
charges of tax evasion.
A spokesman for a special police unit for fighting organized crime (NCOZ) said agents had seized nine tons of raw tobacco in addition to equipment.
The accused planned to import machinery and several tons of raw tobacco to expand the illegal cigarette production line, NCOZ spokesman Jaroslav Ibehej said.
Interior Minister Jan Hamáček and Police President Jan Švejdar met with
President Miloš Zeman at Lány Chateau on Saturday to outline the
priorities of the force.
They discussed the need to fight economic crime, drugs related crime and improve road safety.
The president expressed appreciation of the work of the force and rising public trust in the police.
Jan Švejdar took up the post in December of last year.
Prime Minister Andrej Babiš, who is charged with EU subsidy fraud, was
summoned by the police on Thursday for questioning in connection with the
case, the daily Právo reported on Saturday. His wife Monika and daughter
Adriana were also questioned.
Babiš and six others are suspected of having illegally acquired a 50 million crown EU grant for the Stork’s Nest farm and hotel compound which was part of his multi-billion crown empire after orchestrating a fake transfer of ownership to enable it to qualify for a grant intended for small and medium-sized businesses.
If convicted Andrej Babiš could face up to ten years in prison.
The head of China’s Energy giant CEFC and special advisor to Czech
President Miloš Zeman, Ye Jianming, was arrested in mid-February and is
being investigated for economic crimes, according to the news site
The news site says that the CEO’s arrest was confirmed to a group of Czech state officials who travelled to China to ascertain the situation.
The South China Morning Post recently reported that the management of CEFC China Energy had been taken over by the state agency Shanghai Guosheng Group. CEFC is active in the Czech Republic where it has assets worth 1.5 billion euros.
A spokesman for the president said Mr. Zeman had received the Chinese ambassador to Prague to discuss the situation.
President Miloš Zeman will appoint the winner of the upcoming parliamentary elections as the next prime minister, the presidential spokesman Jiří Ovčáček told the news site Aktuálně.cz on Saturday. Mr Ovčáček spoke in reaction to the police request to lift the parliamentary immunity of former Finance Minister and ANO parta leader Andrej Babiš and the deputy chairman of the party Jaroslav Faltýnek. The request is connected with the so-called Stork’s Nest affair, where a company belonging to Babiš‘ large agro-chemical group Agrofert applied for a 50 million crown European grant for work on a recreation and hotel complex. The funding was supposed to be directed towards small and medium sized companies. Mr Ovčáček also questioned the fact that the police move came just two months ahead of the general elections in October.
The country’s elite tax evasion unit, Cobra, has uncovered large-scale fraud in taxes conducted by some eight suspects and three companies between the years 2011 and 2014. Losses in tax revenue were estimated at around 620 million crowns. The group operated so-called carousel fraud, the theft of Value-Added Tax, mainly in the region of Zlín. The defendants, if found guilty, face up to 10 years behind bars.
The police have launched criminal proceedings against five people in connection with the Ševětín photovoltaic power plant, charging them with fraud. The Prague High State Attorney’s Office published the news on its website. If found guilty, the suspects could face between five to 10 years behind bars; the power plant belongs to partly state-owned energy giant ČEZ.
Finance Minister and ANO party leader Andrej Babiš is in hot water over the suspect drawing of EU funds for his Stork’s Nest farm and conference centre. Mr Babiš maintains that that the application for the funds was made by the farm’s previous owner, whom he refuses to name. An extraordinary session of Parliament called by the opposition is now likely to be held on the matter next Wednesday.
Czech authorities have found discrepancies in the drawing of funds for the Stork’s Nest farm and conference centre of ANO leader and minister of finance Andrej Babiš with fines of 6.0 million crowns at one stage imposed, the server Neovlivni.cz wrote on Wednesday. The circumstances of EU funds awarded to the project are now being investigated by EU anti-fraud authorities. Babiš and his massive Agrofert agro-chemical group have until now maintained that Czech authorities had no misgivings about the funding of the centre.The company denied again on Wednesday it was asked to pay any penalty.