This was not included in his declaration of assets. The sumptuous Château Bigaud, in the Provencal village of Mougins. Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babiš would not have bought it in person, but through an offshore company, according to the international survey of “Pandora Papers” revealed Sunday October 3.
The revelation falls badly, a few days before the legislative elections of October 8 and 9. The billionaire, founder of the agro-food company Agrofert, – the largest employer in the country with 34,000 employees – was already accused of embezzling several million euros of European funds. He is now accused of tax exile, even money laundering.
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Again, Andrej Babiš denies everything altogether.“I have never done anything illegal or wrong”, he reacted on his Twitter account, accusing the authors of the investigation of “Denigrate” and “To influence” voting. He appeared in front of the media, a bundle of documents in hand in good faith, concerning this luxurious residence on the Côte d’Azur. “It was a recommendation from a real estate agency. She recommended buying it through a lawyer. It’s not illegal ”, he hammered.
Towards a very tight ballot
The allegations date back to 2009, before the entry into politics of Andrej Babiš, founder in 2012 of the ANO party (” Yes “ in Czech). According to the Consortium of media invested in “Pandora Papers”, the businessman would have relied on two law firms, one French (DB Artwell Avocats), the other Panamanian (Alcogal), to found companies which were responsible for the purchase of this castle belonging to the Agrofert holding company, of which the Prime Minister no longer holds the levers.
For now, there is nothing damning enough to change the electoral situation, said Lukáš Macek, Czech policy expert at the Jacques Delors Institute. “Based on the history, since this kind of accusation is not a first, I would expect a marginal effect. There is today in the population an incompressible core of 25 to 30% of sympathizers ready to espouse the thesis according to which Andrej Babiš is a victim of persecution ”.
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However, a shift in power remains possible. The election promises to be very close. Sunday October 3, before the announcement of the scandal, the Prime Minister and his allies (Communists and far-right) had a short lead in the polls, with 103 of the 200 seats in the lower house. In the opposition, the right-wing coalition (SPOLU) and the anti-corruption coalition of the Pirate Party and Independent Mayors gathered respectively 21.3% and 17.4% of the vote, with a small pool of seats to be won in the small parties. Their victory would be, whatever happens, fragile, warns Lukáš Macek. “Even if these two lists obtain a majority on paper, with let’s admit 101 seats, their internal strength will remain an issue, and Andrej Babišwill do everything to make them explode “.
Hundreds of executives accused of tax evasion
The investigation of “Pandora papers” mobilized 600 journalists on nearly 12 million documents. She cites 336 politicians who allegedly escaped taxation via companies offshore.
King Abdullah II of Jordan reportedly bought 14 luxury properties in the US and UK through these entities ($ 106 million).
Ecuadorian President, Guillermo Lasso, would have lodged funds in two trusts headquartered in the United States, in South Dakota.
Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta is said to have a foundation in Panama. Members of his direct family are believed to have more than $ 30 million in accounts offshore.
Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair and former French minister Dominique Strauss-Kahn are also implicated.