Leading Czech prime minister candidate charged with fraud

PRAGUE (AP) — The leading candidate to become the Czech Republic’s next prime minister has been charged with fraud involving $2 million in European Union subsidies.

Andrej Babis, a former Czech finance minister and billionaire, says that the case is politically motivated aimed at hurting his chances in this month’s parliamentary election.

Last month, lawmakers agreed to lift Babis’ parliamentary immunity from prosecution.

Babis’ centrist ANO movement is widely expected to win the Oct. 20-21 election. Another ANO official, Jaroslav Faltynek, also has been charged. He also denies the accusations.

The case involves a farm that received an EU subsidy after its ownership was transferred from the Agrofert conglomerate of some 250 companies that belonged to Babis to Babis’ family members. The EU farm subsidy was meant for medium and small businesses.

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