Protective N95 respirator masks via iStock / Supersmario

Czech Health Ministry buys respirators from sponsor of PM Andrej Babiš’s ANO party

The Czech Health Ministry has bought respirators from an Ostrava-based firm whose only owner was the biggest sponsor of ANO in 2017

Prague, April 21 (CTK) – The Health Ministry has amid the coronavirus crisis bought respirators from Reality World, an Ostrava-seated firm whose only owner Jakub Koudela was in 2017 the biggest sponsor of ANO, the current senior government movement of PM Andrej Babiš, Denik N daily’s server has written.

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Health Minister Adam Vojtěch (for ANO) has dismissed any connection between the sponsorship and the recent respirators purchase contract worth 5.4 million crowns. He told Denik N that he knew nothing about the sponsoring of ANO’s election campaign by Reality World and did not know the firm’s owner either.

ANO was a junior government party in 2014-2017, when Babiš was finance minister. After its comfortable victory in the October 2017 general election, Babiš became prime minister.

Vojtech told Denik N that he has never heard about the Reality World company so far and that the company’s history is unimportant in the situation of the national emergency, which requires the fastest possible supplies of medical protective means.

“We have always, even in the most turbulent times, made a basic check of our suppliers, over whether they owe some taxes or are faced with bankruptcy,” Vojtěch said.

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Established in 2008, Reality World focuses on providing real estate services. According to the latest available data, the firm made a profit of 44,000 crowns in 2017. In the same year, its only owner Koudela, 31, sent 650,000 crowns as a sponsoring gift to Babiš’s ANO movement.

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Like the Health Ministry, Koudela has dismissed the speculation about the contract having anything to do with his firm’s sponsoring of ANO.

He said his company has dealt with real estate business only marginally and has focused on foreign trade since 2011.

Koudela said the ministry’s contract was his own initiative. “I offered a supply of respirators to the team of the ministry’s purchasers. Our price is far from bad, as are our supply conditions, and therefore my offer was accepted,” he said.

The supplied FFP2 respirators come from China. The ministry says it originally ordered almost two millions of them from Koudela’s firm, which, nevertheless, finally supplied only 60,000 respirators worth 5.4 million crowns.

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