Wednesday, September 06, 2017

Nine wasted hours of the lawmakers but Babiš is available to police

Two months ago, police asked the Czech Parliament to strip the presumptive future prime minister (after the October 2017 elections), the Slovak-born billionaire and ex-communist snitch Andrej Babiš (and his top deputy, both in the corporation Agrofert and the political movement ANO), of his (or their) immunity because of their apparent subsidy fraud.



The fraud was explained by a Spanish employee of Babiš above. ;-) A decade ago, Babiš decided to build the best project of his life, the luxurious farm the Stork Nest with the dominant building resembling the Olympic Bird Nest in Beijing. He found out that it wasn't profitable, by some $2 million, but he noticed an EU subsidy for small and medium companies working in tourism. So he moved the company constructing the company to a separate company with anonymous stockholders, which were first his kids and his current wife's brother, to agree with various criteria, and five years after the $2 million EU subsidy was received, he reincorporated the company back to his personal company Agrofert worth some $3 billion.

Morally, it was clearly wrong because neither he nor his family was eligible for a subsidy addressed to small and medium companies. His exercise was a sequence of superficially kosher legal steps except that when you look more carefully, and the police did look more carefully, they weren't really right. The application for the subsidy was mentioning false or distorted data about the funding and true ownership while some other key facts were being hidden.




His story really confirms this story according to the police, he just insists it was "legal". As you can see, he has a very superficial idea about the "legality". If you can transfer the companies and real estate from one place to another, and mask the real ownership in various ways, and persuade a few bureaucrats that the companies are eligible for the subsidy, it must be legal.

Well, that's not really what the law says. For obvious reasons, things must be OK not just superficially. It's not just the "apparent" owner who must "look" like a small company. What the law demands is clearly that the actual owner, when all tricks are unmasked, much be a reasonably poor or medium-wealth individual or a group. And Babiš who is the second wealthiest Czech just isn't one.




The law must obviously mean the actual owner, and/or it says that it's illegal to try to create fake ideas about the real owner. But it's plausible that you could find a judge who would disagree and who would say that the "superficial, apparent legality" is enough. So I can't be sure that the verdict will be "guilty". I am just sure that it was unethical and I am sure that I would charge him with the subsidy fraud if I were the judge.

After the immunity committee of the Parliament studied the eight-page justification of the request by the police – which has already leaked to the public, as the hyperlink indicates – and recommended the lawmakers to vote "strip them of their immunity", the Parliament itself was deciding today.

From the beginning, it was clear that the vote would be "strip them". And indeed, 120 out of 130 people in the hall were voting to strip them of the immunity. The ANO party of Babiš himself left the hall during the vote, except for Babiš and Faltýnek themselves. Each of them voted to be stripped of his own personal immunity, while each of them abstained in the case of the fellow suspect. OK, the majority was guaranteed because no one outside ANO was suggesting that he or she would oppose the stripping of the immunity.

But the Parliament still needed nine hours to get to the vote. The lawmakers owned by Babiš – is slavery still legal in Czechia? – were working hard to show their Führer that they were the most loyal ones and they were defending Babiš and Faltýnek in many incredible ways. The degree of hypocrisy was just stunning, especially if you compare their statements today with the previous ones. They define their movement as an "anticorruption movement" but their boss will be the first one who is already prosecuted by police for his crimes while running for the job of our prime minister.

They were always against immunity – all lawmakers should be immediately given to the police. Now tons of them argued against the immunity. They were against obstructions – they spent a whole day with obstructions.

We have learn lots of things. One of Babiš's lawmakers showed a picture of a cow to everybody, claiming that it may be both a cow and a bull with horns removed. So a useful discussion about cows' horns was started. Someone claimed that cows may have horns, too! So I must admit, this was an extremely helpful part of the proceedings today because I was forced to find out whether cows and bulls or just bulls have horns.

The answer is fun. I wonder how many of you know about it. Both cows and bulls actually have horns naturally! They need them to defend themselves against some predators etc. But when cows are young and bred by humans, there are no predators around, except for the humans, of course, so the horns are unnecessary from the human viewpoint. Well, the cows could still find the horns useful to defend themselves against the annoying humans but the humans are really harsh and don't allow them any horns: they cut them when the cows are babies. That's why it looks like cows usually don't have horns! But there have been suggestions that the milk from cows with horns is better than the milk from cows without horns so some farmers are stopping the practice of removing the horns.

Needless to say, only The Reference Frame goes this deeply in this lecture – the lawmakers remained much more superficial – but aside from this sketch of the cow horn issue, there have been some other off-topic discussions, especially one about the privatization of a coal company, OKD. Thank God, the duration of this theater was finite and Babiš and Faltýnek are now available for the prosecution by the police. If they managed to get to the Parliament after October 21st or so, they will have the immunity once again and the Parliament will be asked to strip them of their immunity again.

I believe that the police should take both men into custody because there's a big risk that they will escape Czechia, there's a big risk that they will continue in their criminal activities of getting fraudulent activities etc., and there's a big risk that they will try to influence the witnesses. Not just one sufficient condition but all three sufficient conditions for a custody seems to be obeyed. So I think they should basically be preemptively arrested now. I can't quite imagine how they would be running the campaign for the October elections in which they're expected to win with some 25%, although I do hope and find it rather likely that ANO will actually not win at all.

If he becomes the prime minister, he has already made it rather clear that he plans huge personal Stalinist vendettas against the policemen and others who dared to investigate him. Goolags will be full. I am sure that it is a matter of pride for the part of police that is working on this stuff and most of them must really view Babiš as a hardcore gangster and a formidable enemy who must be defeated before it's too late – because he could gain the capacity to destroy them in person and the whole system of the rule of law, too.

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