Former Czech prime minister, Andrej Babiš, will face trial after the prosecution indicted him in a fraud case involving European Union subsidies.
The move announced on Monday by Prague’s public prosecution office came weeks after the lower house of the Czech parliament agreed to lift Babiš’ immunity from prosecution for his alleged involvement in the $2m (£1.5m) fraud.
The decision allowed the prosecutors to complete their review of the case and go ahead with the indictment, which was repeatedly recommended by police investigators.
Babiš, a populist billionaire, denies any wrongdoing and has repeatedly said the allegations against him were politically motivated.
“I’ve never done anything illegal, in the past or in politics,” Babiš said on Monday. “I’ll prove it at the court.”
The prosecution said Prague’s municipal court will take over the case. A date for the trial has not been set.
The allegations involve a farm that received EU subsidies after its ownership was transferred from the Babiš-owned Agrofert conglomerate of about 250 companies to Babiš family members. Later, Agrofert again took ownership of the farm.
The subsidies were meant for medium and small businesses, and Agrofert would not have been eligible for them.
MPs had twice lifted Babiš’ immunity from prosecution in the case, which dates to 2007. The prosecutors had to ask them to do it again following October’s parliamentary election.
Last year, as part of the Pandora papers, the Guardian revealed the convoluted offshore structure that Babiš had used in 2009 to finance the purchase of a £13m mansion in the south of France. Babiš did not respond at the time to Guardian questions.
Moving money offshore or using offshore companies to buy property is not illegal and is sometimes done for legitimate reasons of privacy or security.
The original source of those particular funds was unknown, however, as is why Babiš chose such a complicated structure to finance a purchase he could have made directly.
The arrangements did not offer Babiš any obvious tax benefit, experts said. One Czech tax expert said: “[It] looks like a complicated structure to hide ownership of the companies or property.”
Babiš’ ANO political movement lost the election. A coalition of five parties formed a new government, and ANO ended up in opposition.