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01-06-2019

Czech media publishes details of EU report accusing Babiš of conflict of interest

Details of a 71-page European Commission preliminary report relating to the Czech prime minister, Andrej Babiš, have been published by a number of Czech media outlets. The audit states that, having “appointed all their actors”, Mr. Babiš has “a decisive influence” over two trust funds via which he controls the Agrofert group. This means the Czech PM is in conflict of interest, a charge he strenuously denies.

Mr. Babiš placed Agrofert, a major agriculture, food and chemicals business, in a trust fund two years ago.

The European Commission says that all EU subsidies received by Agrofert since February 2017, when a conflict of interest law entered the Czech statute books, should be returned. It put the figure that the Czech state should seek back from Agrofert at CZK 450 million.

The Czech minister of finance, Alena Schillerová of Mr. Babiš’s ANO party, said on Friday evening that the Czech state would be demanding the return of the money if it were proven to have been wrongfully acquired.

In a separate matter, 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.

A rally against Mr. Babiš in central Prague had already been planned for next Tuesday evening prior to Friday’s news about the European Commission report.

Babiš: Final EU report could reach opposite conclusion

Andrej Babiš says a European Commission report alleging conflict of interest on his part is only preliminary and that a final report could reach the opposite conclusion. The Czech PM made the comment in an interview with Saturday’s edition of Právo.

Mr. Babiš said that once a Czech translation of the document had been produced in one month’s time it would be analysed closely by the ministries of finance and regional development, which would have two months to respond. The European Commission would send a final version of its audit at the same time, he said.

The European Commission’s preliminary report says he has command of two trust funds via which he controls the Agrofert group, placing him in conflict of interest.

The Czech prime minister also told Právo that he would not stand down even if the state prosecutor’s office filed criminal charges against him for abusing EU subsidies in connection with a hotel and conference centre. The police have recommended that step.

Aung San Suu Kyi arrives in Prague

Myanmar’s Aung San Suu Kyi was due to arrive in Prague on Saturday. The politician has a private programme planned for the weekend before holding official talks with the Czech prime minister, Andrej Babiš, and foreign minister, Tomáš Petříček. She will also have a brief meeting with President Miloš Zeman.

On Tuesday the Nobel Peace Prize laureate – who is Myanmar's de facto leader – is due to speak at a business forum. Her country’s minister of investments and economic relations and minister of international cooperation are travelling with her.

Prague concert in support of Sri Lanka terror attack victims

A charity concert in aid of victims of terrorist attacks that took place in Sri Lanka at Easter will be held at the Hotel Hilton in Prague on Saturday night. The event has been organised by the Czech Centres network and the Catholic Charity, in cooperation with the Czech Foreign Ministry.

It is due to feature the Zlín Philharmonic Orchestra helmed by Prague-based Indian conductor Debashish Chaudhuri. The concert’s proceeds will go directly to the families affected by the attacks, which left over 250 people dead.

Bill seeks to ease clearance of childhood debts

People in the Czech Republic who have debts from their childhood should be able to clear their debts under the same preferential regime as pensioners and the infirm, under an amendment to the law on insolvency put forward by a cross-party group of MPs headed by Kateřinou Valachová of the Social Democrats. Under the proposed legislation such individuals would be able to clear their financial liabilities within three years, if they meet certain conditions.

In the Czech Republic over 6,500 children are facing distraint orders and tens of thousands of adults are still straddled with debts acquired in childhood. Such debts can arise from failing to pay mobile phone bills or fare-dodging.

Warm weather forecast for June in Czech Republic

June looks set to be warm in the Czech Republic, with temperatures in the coming week due to reach up to 31 degrees Celsius, according to a four-week forecast issued by the Czech Hydro-Meteorological Institute on Saturday.

Though temperatures will not be as high in the remaining three weeks of June, the daily average will be above 20 degrees Celsius and the coming month will be averagely or above averagely warm for the time of year. Precipitation is expected to be in line with the long-term average.

Siniaková advances in Paris after beating world number one Osaka

Kateřina Siniaková has reached the fourth round of tennis’s French Open in Paris after beating world number one Naomi Osaka of Japan. The Czech beat the winner of the last two Grand Slam tournaments and top seed at Roland Garros 6-4 6-2 on Saturday to produce a sensation.

Siniaková, who is 23, is ranked 42 in the world overcame Osaka in one hour and 17 minutes. It is the first time she has reached the last 16 at a Grand Slam tournament.

Weather forecast

It should be mainly sunny in the Czech Republic on Sunday, with daytime highs of up to 26 degrees Celsius. Temperatures are expected to remain around that level until at least the middle of the week, though there will be the chance of storms.

01-06-2019