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 via a set-up of offshore companies, according to the international Pandora Papers investigation revealed on Sunday 3 October (read below). 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. Now he is accused of tax evasion and even money laundering.
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.
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 Media Consortium invested in the Pandora Papers, the businessman relied on two law firms, one French (DB Artwell Avocats), the other Panamanian (Alcogal), to found companies that took charge of the purchase of this castle belonging to the Agrofert holding company, of which the Prime Minister claims to no longer hold the levers.
For the moment, there is nothing damning enough to change the situation on the electoral front, believes 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 the victim of persecution. “
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 of the “Mayors and Independents” gathered respectively 21.3% and 17.4% of the votes, with a small pool of seats to be won. in 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 anything to make them explode. “