Public Affairs (VV) deputy Michal Babák is again making headlines in connection with party financing. As news server iDnes reported on Monday, apart from the Kč 6.5 million he was already known to have lent VV, in March the junior coalition party reportedly borrowed another Kč 5 million. The information comes from material processed by the Finance Ministry’s special auditing arm, the FAÚ, which has since been handed over to the police.
The Finance Ministry suspects Babák — the party’s economic expert — of money laundering. Remarks of self-proclaimed “super guru” Vít Bárta, the party’s de facto leader and paymaster, and other VV officials made public in recent weeks, will not help Babák’s case, with their talk of bags of cash and his ability to “cast spells.”
The junior coalition party’s finances are in crisis and Babák has been attempting to smooth things out in the role as troubleshooter. Over the past two years, Babák has allegedly made cash deposits totaling Kč 7.8 million, several hundred thousand crowns worth at a time. Of this amount, Kč 6.5 million immediately appeared on VV’s accounts. Apart from that, as already mentioned, this year he lent the party Kč 5 million. On the recordings from the meeting of top party representatives one participant praises Babák as a “wizard” in terms of financing (he dismisses charges of creative accounting as lies and promises to set the record straight). This man couldn’t put one over on a nursery school, let alone forensic accountants.
It’s hard to say whether Bárta’s administration sees a crisis manager as one who resolves problems or rather creates them. Either way, to put it kindly, Babák himself is not grounded in reality. This man couldn’t put one over on a nursery school, let alone forensic accountants — and those who monitor party financing knew this long before he entered politics.
In round one of this affair, Babák claimed that the millions he had paid into VV coffers came from personal loans that he took out as a private individual, which he intended to repay from profit he hopes to generate from the sale of his alleged stake in the company Bene Factum.
How could he have thought back in April, when the scandal fully erupted, that the loan he extended a month earlier would not be detected? Had Babák admitted it at the time — along with the other Kč 5 million — he’d be in a better position today. Instead, with his new claims, he appears all the less trustworthy.
How many of Babák’s millions are out there?
Perhaps due to the ceaseless criticism of corruption in the Czech Republic, some people have the idea that there are actually no measures against money laundering in place. It’s not the case, of course, but a number of people operate with impunity under that assumption. And yes, it’s possible to carry bags full of money from place to place, but it’s a mistake to think that it can be hidden by dividing it up and depositing it in foreign bank accounts.
The Finance Ministry’s FAÚ has a marvelous array of tools at its disposal. And dividing up money into smaller piles rather draws attention than diverts it. It’s the same case with international money transfers, especially in the case of company accounts that show zero activity for months at a time and then see a windfall of hundreds of millions.
It’s astounding that someone active in the financial sector for years could not know this. Therefore, it is impossible to exclude that someone promised the “wizard” Babák that if the magic he worked with all those millions went up in smoke he would enjoy political protection from above. Meanwhile, it looks like Babák has pulled everything out of his sleeve.