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The investigation of the case, in which the Prague police has been investigating the suspicion of whether companies belonging to the holding company Agrofert purposefully placed advertising on the Sparrow’s Nest for more than five years, will drag on again.
Police officer Pavel Mikšovský was given until the end of this year by the supervising prosecutor František Partík to close the case, but it is already clear that the deadline will not be met. The screening will continue in 2024, according to Seznam Správ sources familiar with its progress.
The reason, according to these sources, is that the prosecutor Kateřina Weissová from the High State Prosecutor’s Office in Prague, which supervises the case, is giving the subordinate prosecutor new instructions on the case.
What he states in them is not specifically clear, but in general he wants František Partík to evaluate the evidence from the file more. In addition, the mentioned sources confirm that the two prosecutors have different views on the investigation of the case.
To illustrate the different approaches, we can recall that the police officer Mikšovský postponed the case last year and the prosecutor Partík confirmed his decision. But Kateřina Weissová decided that the vetting would continue and gave Mikšovská and Partík their first tasks already in February.
Plaintiff Weissová and the spokesperson of the Prague City Prosecutor’s Office, Aleš Cimbala, confirmed to Seznam Zprávám that Partík received instructions on the case repeatedly. However, they also stated that the case is in the examination phase, so they cannot comment on individual tasks for the supervising prosecutor.
“I cannot comment in more detail on the communication between the supervisory and supervisory prosecutor’s offices regarding the fulfillment of these instructions,” Kateřina Weissová wrote to the editors.
“There is still a situation where it is not possible to provide information on the individual actions of the prepared procedure and therefore it is not possible to describe in detail the content of any instructions or mutual substantive communication between the higher and lower public prosecutor’s offices,” said Aleš Cimbala.
However, prosecutors refused to comment on whether Kateřina Weiss’s instructions lead to charges being filed in this case, due to the aforementioned investigation. In addition, there is a dispute between the two prosecutor’s offices about how often Partík received new instructions. According to Weiss, it was only in February and June this year.
But the city prosecutor’s office said that the sending of instructions was more numerous. The last ones came from the Prague High Prosecutor’s Office at the end of October this year. Cimbala’s spokesperson commented on this only in general terms.
“I can confirm that in the exercise of the supervisory powers of the higher prosecutor’s office over the matter in question, there is ongoing communication between the supervising prosecutor and the supervising prosecutor,” Cimbala wrote.
One of the tasks that the investigators had to wait for was the decision of the Financial Appeals Directorate. This year, due to the placement of advertising on the Hornbill’s Nest, companies from the holding company Agrofert were taxed. Four companies – Preol, Precheza and Primagra, as well as Agrofert itself – disagreed and filed lawsuits in court. However, the decision of the Financial Appeal Directorate is already part of the police file.
Facts about the screening of advertising on the Stork’s Nest
Farma Čapí acquired the nest from companies from Agrofert between 2010 and 2013 advertising revenue totaling 272 million crowns. At the time it was creating 70 to 90 percent of total sales loss-making congress center near Olbramovice in Central Bohemia.
In the very first year of operation, i.e. in 2010, the income of the – then not yet fully completed – Hornbill’s Nest from advertising was 65 million crowns. And as the Reporter magazine calculated at the beginning of the screening, it would be enough, for example, to rent 1,100 billboards for a whole year or the payment of two thousand advertising spots, which would be seen by a total of 685 million viewers.
Several companies from Agrofert sent advertising money to the Hornbill’s Nest before the resort officially opened. Some of the companies that paid for advertising on the Hornbill’s Nest also disappeared shortly afterwards.
Advertising in the rural recreation area to a large extent lacked logical justification. In the first years of operation, from which the verified advertising contracts originate, the farm served mainly as a center for Agrofert’s corporate events.
In the case of advertising, the police are investigating the suspicion that companies belonging to Agrofert purposefully commissioned advertising at the still-under-construction Čapí Nest Farm, for overestimated amounts. In this way, on the one hand, they could enable the emerging recreation center near Olbramovice in the Benešovsk region to repay loans, and on the other hand, they could reduce their tax base and thus commit tax evasion.
It will not be easy for the police to prove that there was a reduction in tax in the case of advertising on Čapí hnízd.
The advertising case is the second branch of the case surrounding the Čapí hnízdo multifunctional complex in Central Bohemia. In the main part, former prime minister Andrej Babiš and the then manager of Agrofert, Jana Nagyová, face the indictment.
Both were acquitted by the court in January this year, but the High Court of Appeal overturned this sentence. The case will be resolved again by the Municipal Court in Prague.