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France opens investigation into former Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babiš – POLITICO


PARIS — French prosecutors have opened an investigation into Czech billionaire and former prime minister Andrej Babiš on suspicion of money laundering linked to his purchase of villas in the south of France.

The National Financial Prosecutor’s Office (PNF), responsible for controlling serious economic and financial crime, launched its proceedings in February 2022, according to Le Monde, after the businessman was mentioned in the Pandora newspapers – a massive leak of documents that revealed how the rich and powerful use offshore companies to hide their wealth.

According to the documents, the former Czech leader did not disclose a series of front companies used to buy a multimillion-euro French property.

Babiš denied doing anything wrong or illegal and said the revelations were aimed at his re-election campaign, which subsequently failed.

French investigators are now focusing on how Babiš acquired his 14 million euro property in the billionaire paradise of Mougins, which was purchased through a Monaco-based company owned by an offshore entity in the United States.

The entire setup was allegedly hidden from French authorities and may constitute a money laundering and tax avoidance scheme, Le Monde reported.

Karel Hanzelka, spokesperson for Babiš’s Agrofert Group, said that “all our transactions were carried out completely legally and we paid all the required taxes”.

Babiš, the fifth richest man in the Czech Republic, is also accused of benefiting from 2 million euros in European funds intended for small and medium-sized businesses in the country. The billionaire is due in court on September 12 in the case.




POLITICO

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