AGROFERT perceives the entire case of conflicts of interest and subsidies as an artificially constructed, politicised and purposeful matter initiated and long-nurtured by the untruths of certain politicians and media.
Although the audit of the European Commission concerns AGROFERT, no one from the European Commission has ever contacted AGROFERT, nor was AGROFERT given any opportunity to comment and present its arguments.
Nevertheless, the media is full of false information, unsubstantiated and often false statements by various Czech politicians and certain Czech media attacking AGROFERT and demanding the return of the preposterous and allegedly illegally obtained billions.
The facts are as follows:
- The text of the audit report of the European Commission published on 23 April 2021 is almost 2 years old, contains outdated conclusions and recommendations, as based on the so-called “follow up letter” sent to the Czech Republic in October 2020, the European Commission acknowledged the Czech party’s arguments and limited the scope of “disputable” subsidies. Therefore, it cannot be a final report or a new audit.
- According to the current version of the European Commission’s audit, only 3 subsidies are the subject of further research and clarification due to an alleged conflict of interest from the original number of approximately 100 subsidies for all 220 AGROFERT Group companies, of which 2 subsidies with CZK 3.1 million paid (approx. EUR 119 thousand), and a third subsidy in the amount of CZK 2 million (approx. EUR 77 thousand) has not yet been reimbursed (source – Ministry of Finance of the Czech Republic).
- If other disputed subsidies are mentioned, then it is not in connection with the alleged conflict of interest, but because the audit of the European Commission evaluated them with a significant hindsight differently than the control body in the Czech Republic and this is now subject to further investigation. Should expenditure subsequently be declared ineligible, the beneficiaries of the subsidies will oppose this.
- The two-year-old wording of the audit report does not imply any obligation in connection with the alleged conflict of interest of the Czech Republic, AGROFERT or the beneficiary to return anything. There is no factual or legal reason for that. The audit report of the European Commission is not and cannot be a legal decision.
- The auditors of the European Commission interpret the Czech law unjustifiably and incorrectly. Only Czech courts have jurisdiction to interpret Czech legislation.
- AGROFERT has always applied for a grant aid in accordance with the applicable legislation and has always met all the required criteria for the subsidy award. This was always confirmed by repeated inspections of the competent authorities for all subsidies received.
- There is no conflict of interest – the former shareholder of AGROFERT, Andrej Babiš, did everything that the Act on Conflict of Interest required of him by putting the company shares in trust funds. There is not a single piece of evidence recognised by the Czech or other courts to prove a conflict of interest.
AGROFERT declares that it does not draw subsidies unjustifiably. AGROFERT does not live on grants and is not dependent on them. Like any other private company doing business in the EU and in the Czech Republic, it only uses all legal business instruments, including grant instruments created mainly by the European Union and implemented in individual EU member states.
Given that we consider the entire case to be a part of the political struggle, AGROFERT has not commented publicly on these issues for a long time. However, as these unjustifiable political and media attacks have long gone beyond good morals and are damaging the reputation of the AGROFERT Group, we want to inform not only the Czech public, but we also address Members of the European Parliament who held a debate on the audit report concerning the alleged conflict of interest on 19/05/2021 and will take part in the vote of the alleged conflict of interest of the former shareholder of AGROFERT.
The Board of Directors of AGROFERT, a.s.