Detaily z politického a byznysového zákulisí o čerpání eurodotací, popis propojení hnutí ANO a skupiny Agrofert a údajná nechuť českých úřadů s pochybnostmi ohledně unijních miliard cokoli dělat. Takový je obsah anonymního podání, které do Bruselu odešlo z Čech. Kvůli němu čelí vicepremiér Andrej Babiš zatím nejvážnějšímu problému ohledně využívání evropských dotací.
Stížnost odešla do Bruselu koncem loňského roku na řadu adres, včetně poslanců europarlamentu, zástupců Evropské komise i úředníků zodpovědných za čerpání eurodotací. Případ nyní řeší Evropský úřad proti podvodům, kam jej předala i komise.
Text stížnosti nyní získal deník Neovlivní.cz. Autor v něm ve 33 odstavcích shrnuje situaci v oblasti čerpání evropských peněz v České republice a popisuje případ, v němž se zástupcům Agrofertu podařilo skrytým lobbingem změnit ve státní správě pravidla pro čerpání dotací ve prospěch vicepremiérovy firmy.
Stížnost je anonymní, její autor sám sebe popisuje jako člověka, který se v České republice dlouhodobě věnuje problematice eurofondů. Jako důvod, proč se obrátil na Brusel, uvádí strach lidí v České republice se problému věnovat. A také to, že české úřady podle něj nejsou ochotny se podvodům při čerpání unijních peněz dostatečně věnovat. “Bez vnějšího zásahu se situace nevyřeší,” píše.
Autor současně slibuje, že dodá další případy včetně konkrétních jmen,v nichž existuje podezření na nefér hru. Zároveň nevylučuje, že v budoucnu vystoupí z anonymity a bude vyšetřovatelům z Bruselu k dispozici.
Agrofert už jakékoli pochybnosti odmítl, vicepremiér Andrej Babiš dopis označil za “účelovku”, která jej má poškodit.
Kompletní znění stížnosti:
Dear members of OLAF, EP, EC and ECA
I am a person many years working in the implementation of EU funds in the Czech republic and I would like to inform you about systematic abuse, fraud and related conflicts of interests in the area of EU funds in the Czech republic which result in irregularities of systemic nature, preferential treatment and other problematic issues which are not always disclosed due to involvement of people managing the EU funds and the fear of people knowing about it. As the situation in the Czech republic is unbearable anymore I decided to contact you directly to take action.
Most of the relevant Czech institutions are not able to deal with these issues as the top level officials and politicians are not willing to take adequate actions as some of them actively or passively participate in these abuse and fraud schemes. Some of these officials even have already been or will be nominated to work in the EU institutions which is even more worrying as they are and will be in a position to influence the independent opinion of the EU institutions in this area. In the coming emails I am going to provide you detailed examples of concrete failures and abuses of EU funds in the Czech republic and name people behind these abuses in the subsequent emails to come from me.
I am aware that the EC and ECA detected many irregularities in the past in the Czech Republic and imposed heavy financial corrections and actions to improve the work of the Czech authorities. However, it was only a top of the iceberg, the roots of the problems were not detected, the real problems not solved, the situation is still very bad and in the recent months the trend in the abuse of EU funds is and will be very much worsening with new programming period coming. Officials who are responsible for the tens of billions of CZK of detected irregularities are still in their positions (or even promoted in Czech or to the EU institutions) and the abuse continues.
The problems detected are again not being solved but rather the auditors detecting it are being attacked. The situation is as bad that even the minister of regional development Karla SLECHTOVA politically attacks auditors and audit authority. She is very confident because she has many friends working in the EC who she relies on their support in her actions against auditors who detected irregularities and fraud in the IT projects detected in her ministry which are financed from the EU funds.
The minister of finance Andrej BABIS is also not interested to protect his own auditors as he at the same time owns the biggest beneficiary company of the structural and agriculture funds (AGROFERT) and at the same time should be responsible for the „independent“ work of the certifying and audit authorities in his ministry of finance, therefore, in his interest it is not to have an good and efficient audit authority in his ministry.
Recently, there is a very strong political pressure coming from the ministry of finance and the ministry of regional development to destroy the audit authority located in the ministry of finance due to their audit results in the IT area which is politically very sensitive topic due to political affiliation of the IT software suppliers such as TESCO SW (owned by brother of highly ranked social democrat). The audit authority is probably one of few relatively working institutions, together with the Supreme Audit Office, which are at least a bit able to detect and report errors and fraud in the EU funds sector. However, even this will be soon finished, significant personal changes are prepared to take place in order to bring down the of the audit authority which is certainly not in the interest of the Czech citizens or EU. The new civil servant law imposed by the EC will be abused for the cleaning up of civil servants who are not loyal to the “system” of the EU funds abuse by cancelling their positions or not selecting them during upcoming obligatory re-selection of all public servants.
As the situation in the Czech republic is very depressive and unsolvable without a serious outside intervention, I am convinced that now, as the new programming period starts and the EU is threatened by new security risks, it is absolutely necessary for the EU institutions to take adequate and coordinate actions to safeguard the financial interests of all EU citizens including the Czech ones. I am of the opinion that EC and ECA should launch an independent coordinated investigations and audits under the supervision of the EP to discover what is really going on in the Czech republic in the area of structural funds and maybe in other countries as well.
I would like to inform you that a usual surface short term project audits will hardly discover the deeply rooted system of corruption and politicization of the EU funds implementation. Only a deep, independent and qualified investigation by EU institutions themselves (without subcontracting it to the Czech national authorities) can succeed to uncover the roots of the problems. I am feared that the Czech republic could end up in the same problems like Greece if the EU institutions take only a relaxed approach in this regard.
I am going to provide you several detailed examples of failures, abuses and conflict of interest committed by high level officials and politicians which if taken in a broader picture together will illustrate how the EU funds are still effectively abused in the Czech republic while keeping Brussels institutions in a false quietness.
I unfortunately cannot provide you with my name at this stage as I am sure that there are many Czechs in the structures of the EU who would certainly report my information back to the Czech republic to be used against me. Therefore, please be very much careful to whom you will provide this information mentioned below.
CASE 1 – OP Enterprise and Innovations for Competitiveness (2014-2020)
Attempt to modify the content of the calls of the operational programe in favor of the company AGROFERT owned by the minister of finance Andrej BABIS
Our first eventual case of abuse of a conflict of interest relate to the content of the first calls for projects applications and attempts to modify the content of the OP Enterprise and Innovations for Competitiveness (2014-2020) in favor of large enterprises which was negotiated between the representatives and politicians linked to AGROFERT (large company owned by the minister of finance Andrej BABIS) and the deputy minister of industry and trade Mr NOVOTNY who is the superior of the managing authority of the OP mentioned above. This political and business influence of a large company on the parameters of the calls for project applications will certainly result in higher EU funds allocation for companies belonging to AGROFERT which is the largest beneficiary of EU funds in the Czech republic.
Who is who in this case:
AGROFERT: One of the largest companies in the Czech republic (in TOP 3) which owns around 200 other large companies engaged mainly in the sectors of agriculture, chemistry, forest and related industries. It is the largest beneficiary in both structural and agriculture funds in the Czech republic. It is owned by the minister of finance Andrej BABIS.
Mr Andrej BABIS: The only owner of AGROFERT, the 2nd richest person in the Czech republic. In AGROFERT, as owner, Mr BABIS is the boss of Mr FALTYNEK and Mr CINGR. He is also the deputy prime minister and the minister of finance where certifying and audit authorities responsible for control and audit of EU funds are located. He is chairman of the new political party ANO which ended up 2nd in the last political elections and owner of many top influential media in the Czech republic and Slovakia.
Meeting on 25 May:
On 25 May 2015 a meeting took place at the initiative of Jaroslav FALTYNEK in the parliamentary meeting room of the political party ANO. The purpose of this meeting was to reach an agreement to modify the parameters of the first call for project applications of the above mentioned OP which would bring an increased allocation to large enterprises such as AGROFERT (from 20% as mentioned in the OP to 40%). The second goal was to prepare strategy how to convince the European Commission to modify the whole OP in the same manner (from 20% to 40% allocation for large enterprises) which goes against the EU policy in funding preferably SMEs than large enterprises.
As mentioned above the meeting was organized by Mr Jaroslav FALTYNEK, 1st vice-chairmain of the political party ANO, chairman of parliamentary caucus of ANO and chairman of the agricultural committee of the Czech parliament. At the same time Mr FALTYNEK works since 2001 until now in the company AGROFERT, first as director of the agricultural division and since 2007 as a member of the board of directors of AGROFERT. The sole owner of AGROFERT and the boss of MR FALTYNEK is the current deputy prime minister and the minister of finance minister Andrej BABIS who promised publicly not to abuse his permanent conflict of interest arising from the position of the minister of finance. Some information mentioned above about Mr FALTYNEK can be found in the following links (první odkaz », druhý odkaz », třetí odkaz »)
The meeting mentioned above was also attended and by the deputy chairman of the board of directors of AGROFERT Mr Petr CINGR and other officials and employees of the company AGROFERT. As a cover up, Mr Petr CINGR acted simultaneously as the representative of the chemical industry of the Czech Republic where he is also a chairman. This was just to pretend that he was acting on behalf of the chemistry industry while the main interest was to get a chance of higher allocation of EU funds for his employer AGROFERT. Mr Petr CINGR is currently not only the vice-president of AGROFERT but acts also as CEO of several AGROFERT subsidiaries such as PREOL and LOVOCHEMIE who also belong among the largest beneficiaries of the EU funds in the Czech republic.
The meeting mentioned above was also attended by the deputy minister for industry and trade Tomas NOVOTNY, superior official of the managing authority of the OP Enterprise and Innovations for Competitiveness (2014-2020) on which AGROFERT people directed its requests.
Mr Andrej BABIS, owner of AGROFERT and the minister of finance, was not present at this meeting, but considering the number and seniority of his AGROFERT subordinates at this meeting taking place directly in the parliamentary room of his political party ANO and organized by his political and business subordinates, it is deemed that he must have been informed.
Request of the AGROFERT people:
At the meeting, Mr. CINGR of AGROFERT requested that the current drafts of the first calls of project applications in the OP should be modified so that large companies (such as AGROFERT) will be able to receive more EU funds than foreseen by the ministry in the draft calls and in the OP approved by the EC.
The first requested modification consisted in the fact that large interlinked companies should be allowed to send more than one project applications per call which was proposed by the ministry initially in their drafts so that AGROFERT and all its subsidiaries can submit more project applications in the first calls for proposals.
The second request was to increase the allocation of EU funding for large enterprises from 20% to 40% in the first calls to be published. AGROFERT people also requested the managing authority to launch a new negotiation with the EC in order to modify the whole OP to increase the allocation from 20 to 40% for the benefit of the large enterprises (AGROFERT) in the whole OP. Just for information, the allocation of max. 20% of the OP budget for large enterprises is set explicitly in the operational program approved by the EC as it is the EU policy not to fund large companies who do not need EU funds so much like SMEs. The justification of the AGROFERT people was that large companies such as AGROFERT have a better absorption capacity than SMEs which is certainly not true as SMEs absorbed all the OP allocation in the previous programming period in 2007-2013.
The third and fourth request related to allow a delayed submission of a building permit at the project proposal submission and timing of ex-ante verifications to be carried by the managing authority.
The content of the request mentioned above was included in the letter which was sent by Mr CINGR of AGROFERT to the deputy minister of industry and trade (managing authority) Tomas NOVOTNY on 26 May 2015, which is enclosed to this email.
Acceptance of this request by the managing authority:
The requests number one and two mentioned above were accepted by the managing authority and the first 3 or 4 calls for project applications were modified. Large interlinked companies were allowed to submit 4 project application per each subsidiary in a call (instead of 1 foreseen initially for the whole interlinked larche company) and the allocation for large enterprises in the first calls was indeed increased from 20% to 40% as requested by the AGROFERT people. These calls were published on internet so these the acceptance of the first two request of AGROFERT can be seen. It is not clear if the managing authority accepted also request number 3 of 4 of AGROFERT as this is internal issue of the OP which cannot be seen here:
Call Innovation: http://www.czechinvest.org/data/files/inovace-i-vyzva-4763.pdf
My conclusions for this particular case:
1. I am of the opinion that the above mentioned issue illustrated that the managing authority of OP Enterprise and Innovations for Competitiveness (2014-2020) and its political representatives (such as Mr NOVOTNY) are not acting transparently and independently of influences of large enterprise lobbyists from AGROFERT (company owned by the minister of finance) and that it acts in contrary to the EU policy of supporting SMEs rather than large enterprises. The above mentioned issue signals that it is the company AGROFERT and its political affiliates who define the content of the calls and of the OP in the Czech republic rather than the managing authority itself. It is not clear why representatives of SMEs were not invited to the meeting mentioned above to defend their interests in the OP and it is not clear why the meeting took place at the premises of the political party ANO with leaders of AGROFERT and not at the premises of the managing authority inviting all relevant stakeholders and not only AGROFERT. This is unequal treatment with preferential treatment to AGROFERT and discrimination of SMEs. I believe that the issue mentioned above should be remedied at least by cancelling of the calls affected by AGROFERT and that any modification of the OP coming from the Czech side should be rejected by the EU. However, the roots of the problem will not be solved by this.
2. The political leaders of ANO (Andrej BABIS and Jaroslav FALTYNEK) are according to my opinion abusing their conflict of interest in this issue. Mr BABIS is owner of AGROFERT and Mr FALTYNEK member of the board of directos of AGROFERT. As political representatives in the parliament of the Czech republic they should defend the public interests which is to provide more funding to SMEs as stated in the approved OP following the EU policy, however, the meeting was organized to provide support to the interest of large enterprises such as AGROFERT (the largest EU funds beneficiary in CZ) to which they are clearly linked. The issue stated above signals the lack of efficient legislation in relation to conflicts of interest, its inadequate application and interpretation and unethical behavior of people involved including the highest political representatives..
3. The issue mentioned above signals also lack of action of control authorities in the EU funds area as this issue. This issue mentioned above is not new, it has been already published in the past in the media but no actions were taken so far to my knowledge by any authority. The press article about this issue was published only in a small internet media as the mainstream media are owned by AGROFERT as well.
4. I also believe that the independence of the audit authority and certification authority located in the ministry of finance is also at stake considering the permanent conflict of interest of the minister of finance. If issues like those mentioned above are happening discretely in other OPs and projects I am sure that the auditors located in the ministry of finance can act objectively and independently. A strong pressure on the auditors and controllers is already happening.
I would like to know what the EU institutions can do in general with this situation in the Czech republic and also in relation to this particular case. I am wondering how the issues mentioned above will be judged by the EU institutions. Is this normal way of EU funds decision making practice in other countries as well or is this considered as non-transparent projects selection with an abuse of conflicts of interest defined in the EU regulations? Please, be aware that this is only the first example of problematic issues ongoing in the Czech republic and certainly not the worst one, I will provide you with more.
If you will find these information relevant and important, I am able to meet and discuss more detail under some level of confidentiality.
I wish you a good luck and counting on your judgement and future actions to help the correct EU funds spending in the Czech republic