The European Commission has identified misconduct in the granting of European subsidies amounting to CZK 1.5 billion to Agrofert, owned by finance minister and ANO chief Andrej Babiš, in 2014 and 2015. The deputy chairman of ANO, Jaroslav Faltýnek, was a member of the board of Agrofert at the time while also being involved in the awarding of subsidies as a member of the supervisory board of the State Agricultural Intervention Fund. The European Commission is demanding the return of CZK 22 million from the Czech Republic over what it says was a conflict of interest. Mr. Faltýnek denies any wrongdoing, saying that the granting of subsidies was the work of officials.
The minister of the interior, Milan Chovanec, has ordered the Czech police’s internal affairs unit to look into allegations received in an anonymous email that south Bohemian governor Jiří Zimola received tip-offs about planned police raids. Both men are senior members of the Social Democrats. The email also claimed that Mr. Zimola influenced the awarding of road maintenance contracts. He denies any wrongdoing and says the author of the email was mentally ill.
Over 75,000 people have seen an exhibition of Alphonse Mucha’s Slav Epic since it opened its doors in the Japanese city of Tokyo 12 days ago, Prague councillor Jan Wolf told the Czech News Agency. The series of enormous paintings is scheduled to be on show until June 5 but the Japanese organisers have already sounded out the possibility of keeping the exhibition open for longer. Mr. Wolf said people from all over Japan were travelling to Tokyo for the show.
The state-owned energy giant CEZ saw its net profit fall by 29 percent year-on-year to CZK 14.6 billion in 2016, according to figures released by the company on Tuesday. The decline in profits has been attributed to low energy prices and temporary shutdowns at CEZ’s power stations. The company has proposed paying out a dividend of CZK 33 per share. In the last four years CEZ paid out CZK 40 a share.
Keepers at Dvůr Králové zoo in East Bohemia have begun cutting off the horns of its rhinoceroses. The move follows an incident at the Thoiry zoo in France where poachers killed a rhino and cut its horn off earlier this month. The first rhino at Dvůr Králové, a rare male white rhino, underwent the procedure on Monday, officials said. The zoo currently has 21 rhinos and all of them, with the exception of three calves, are to have their horns removed by chainsaw.
The population of the Czech Republic rose by around 25,000 last year, with foreign migrants accounting for four-fifths of that increase, according to official statistics released on Tuesday. The country had 10,578,820 inhabitants at the end of 2016. Last year saw the highest birth rate in six years and there were more births than deaths. Men were on average 72.3 years of age when they died, compared to 79.2 for women.
Migration and the threat of terrorism are the two main problems faced by the European Union according to a majority of Czechs, according to the results of a new Eurobarometre poll. The survey, conducted last November, found that 63 percent of Czechs saw migration as a major problem, compared to just 13 percent in 2013. Forty-seven percent listed terrorism up from eight percent four years ago. On the domestic scene, Czechs consider unemployment a minor issue but listed growing prices as a problem.
Arsenal goalkeeper Petr Čech has clinched the title of Czech Footballer of the Year for a record ninth time, edging Vladimír Darida, who plays for Hertha Berlin and Bořek Dočkal (Henan Jianye) in the annual Czech Football Association survey. Lucie Voňková, a striker for FF USV Jena in the Bundesliga, won the title of Female Footballer of the Year and Vítězslav Lavička, who manages the U-21 team, best coach. The awards were presented at a gala ceremony at Prague Castle.
European funds should not have been used to subsidize Čapí hnízdo (the Stork Farm), independent news site Neovlivni.cz reported on Monday. The news site reported it had complete documentation related to the case, which it said revealed that funding for EU funds included incorrect information which constituted fraud. The Stork Farm facility was previously owned by the giant agro-chemical group Agrofert (2007/2008) which belongs to Finance Minister Andrej Babiš. Czech police have until the end of March to complete the investigation into the matter, which is also being investigated by the European Anti-Fraud Office, OLAF. On Monday, Mr Babis said he had nothing to say on the matter. He expressed the view the story was being whipped up by reporters who used to work for publisher Mafra, after it became a subsidiary of Agrofert.