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Transparency Germany criticizes serious gaps in the transparency register

Czech Prime Minister not listed as beneficial owner in Germany

The anti-corruption organisation Transparency Germany criticizes that the German transparency register (Transparenzregister) has serious gaps. A prominent case illustrates this once again: Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babiš does not appear in the register as a shareholder of the Czech company Agrofert, even though it has an important subsidiary in Germany. It is known from information contained in both the UK Persons of Significant Control and the Slovak register that Andrej Babiš is the final beneficiary of the Agrofert group. In Germany, however, he was able to hide his personal and economic ties to the German subsidiary by transferring it to several trust funds. The information was recorded as such by competent authorities, without any proper verification of the data.

Stephan Klaus Ohme, financial expert at Transparency Germany:

“Lack of disclosure of beneficial ownership in the German transparency register is unacceptable as the actual owner must be -identifiable. This can open the door for illicit financial flows such as money laundering. The German transparency register records ownership relationships only superficially, data is often not verified."

In addition, the exchange with other transparency registers is insufficient at the European level. In order to do justice to a globally networked economy, national registers within the EU must be "synchronized".

Transparency Germany recommends that:

  • Beneficial ownership data should be independently verified by competent authorities;
  • Beneficial ownership information be accessible without fees and prior registration;
  • Datasets be machine-readable for large-scale analyses of register entries;
  • Loopholes must be closed by allowing fictitious authorized persons to be reported;
  • Missing obligations to investigate must be remedied for the transparency register.

Background

The Czech group Agrofert has an important subsidiary in Germany with SKW Stickstoffwerke Piesteritz GmbH. In June 2018, Transparency International Czech Republic revealed that Babiš is the beneficial owner of Agrofert. According to investigations by Transparency International, Prime Minister Babiš is not listed in the German transparency register for the Wittenberg-based company. Before the introduction of a ban on the payment of EU subsidies to companies with conflicts of interest, Babiš transferred his shares to two trust funds of which he is the founder and beneficiary. Through the trust funds, the Prime Minister continued to exercise direct and indirect influence on the entire group of companies; among others, his wife Monika Babišová is member of the supervisory board of the funds. Together with Agrofert CEO Zbyněk Průša, Babišová is listed as the beneficial owner of SKW Stickstoffe Piesteritz GmbH, whereas her husband, the Prime Minister, is not. Following this, Transparency International Czech Republic uncovered further conflicts of interest of Andrej Babiš, filed a number of complaints with both the Czech and EU authorities and took further legal action.

For any press enquiries, please contact:

Stephan Klaus Ohme
Head of Working Group Financial Sector

Sylvia Schwab
Press Officer

E: presse@transparency.de
T: +49 30 54 98 98 0

Auf Deutsch: https://www.transparency.de/ak...