To the surprise of many, the defendants Ya Nagyova and Andrei Babish heard the acquittal in court. Although the trial of the alleged subsidy fraud at the Chapi Gnizdo farm brought many suspicious moments, and the two defendants did not look credible at all, which the court admitted, in the end they were not proven guilty. Why did the court end up acquitting them? Read the alysis we bring to you in collaboration with the law firm Kučera & Associates.
First of all, it must be said that the case as a whole is very complex and requires the evaluation of several legal areas. The ratiole behind this decision is not simple. This is evidenced by the very fact that the judge substantiated his decision for about three hours and additiolly at a press conference, which is not at all standard. However, having listened to the assessment of the evidence and the reasoning of the court, I must say that this is a very high-quality decision, whether we like it or not.
However, the solution may not be clear to the average person. Below I will try to give at least a general explation why Andrei Babish was not found guilty.
First of all, it should be recalled once again that Andrei Babish was charged with complicity in subsidy fraud, which, according to the indictment, the defendant Nagyeva should have committed, in particular, by providing false information in an application for a subsidy. And the fact that Chapi Nest Farm is a small business in its own right. Consequently, if Mrs. Nagy did nothing, then Andrej Babish logically could not be found guilty.
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The prosecution had no evidence that Nagy deliberately violated the terms of the grant.
Based on the justification of the court, doubts may arise that the Chapi Gnizdo farm did not fulfill the conditions of the subsidy. And this is because the terms of the subsidy at that time did not see the problem in the fact that the project was fincially connected with Agrofert. Although the defense of Babish and Nagy tried their best to prove otherwise, in the opinion of the court, this material connection was proven.
However, in the opinion of the court, on the contrary, during the proceedings it was not proved that the Chapi Gnizdo farm operates on the same relevant market as other enterprises of the Agrofert group. Although the indictment mentioned several companies where this coincidence was supposed to take place, it did not provide any evidence of this.
On the contrary, at the end of the dispute, the defense pulled out a large caliber in the form of two expert opinions, which were supposed to prove the opposite – that is, that the Chapi Gnizdo farm did not actually compete with any other company of the concern. . “In doubt in favor of the accused” applies to such situations. Thus, the court should have concluded that it had not been proven that Ms Nagy had given false information. At the same time, the court acknowledged that the information could be false, but in that case, there would still be no evidence that Ms. Nagyeva knew about the falsity of this information.
So far, the court has mainly evaluated reference books of the time for grant applicants. And you haven’t raised the issue enough. In addition, they contained information that the subsidizing service should evaluate the fulfillment of the conditions for subsidizing.
In such a situation, the court could not find fault with Ms Nagy, since, on the basis of the information provided in this way, she could assume that the information provided to her was true, which she also repeatedly asserted and emphasized during the proceedings. The prosecution, on the other hand, did not present any evidence contrary to his knowledge.
The witness who instigated the defense ended up helping her a lot.
The court also considered the testimony of Mr. Baresh, who worked as the investor’s representative and foreman at the Chapi Gnizdo farm, as important for its decision. The court considered his testimony to be key evidence, despite the fact that the defense strongly objected to Baresh’s testimony and at the same time demanded that he be re-examined.
However, this witness testified to several facts that ultimately contributed to the acquittal of the indictment. From Baresh’s testimony, the court found that the decision to separate the Chapi Gnizdo farm from Agrofert had been made before it became possible to apply for a subsidy. And this is because the alysis of the project showed that the Chapi Gnizdo farm will be a production project.
At the same time, Baresh said that his wife and daughter “persuaded” Andrey Babish to “buy” the Chapi farm for them. Given that this decision was made prior to the application for a grant, this could not have been a targeted allocation of funds motivated by the desire to receive a grant.
There are, of course, many more reasons why Andrei Babish was not convicted. The most basic of them can be summarized as follows:
- He was not convicted because Ms. Nagy, whom, according to the indictment, he was supposed to assist in committing subsidy fraud, was not convicted.
- It has not been proven in the crimil proceedings that Ms. Nagy committed subsidy fraud by willfully falsely claiming on her subsidy application that FČH is an independent small business.
- It has not been proven beyond any doubt in the crimil proceedings that this statement was in fact false, let alone that Ms Nagy knew that such information was false and deliberately stated it in the statement contrary to the facts.
- Thus, the court had to be guided by the principle of doubt in favor of the accused and, thus, had to accept the possibility that Ms Nagyeva herself at the moment was convinced of the accuracy of the information she had provided, therefore she could not have the intention to change
- The testimony of witness Baresh, that is, a witness who was clearly not a witness in support of the defence, must prove that this did not appear to be a fraud. He explained to the court the background to the share transfer, in particular that the intention to transfer the shares to the children was there before the subsidy could be applied for. Therefore, the transfer could not have been motivated in the first place by the subsequent receipt of the subsidy.
It is possible that for some people from the holding the business is just beginning
The prosecutor’s office kept the deadline for filing an appeal, but it is already clear that it will not be easy to deal with the above arguments of the court. Nevertheless, it is interesting that this case can make life unpleasant even for the people who testified in it. According to the court, some of the witnesses knowingly told lies, which allowed them to commit the crime of perjury.
For example, Agrofert CFO Petra Prochazkova and Imoba board member František Shlingr lied by court order. The judge also mentioned that he would apply to law enforcement agencies to investigate the above written reasons for the verdict.
In the case of witness Tomasz Rak, former director of the Chapi Gnizdo farm, the court even concluded not only that his testimony was not credible, but even expressed suspicion of possible blackmail. Rak had to resign after his demand for fincial performance against Agrofert was not met.
The author is a lawyer at Kučera & Associates.
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