Czech Finance Minister Dismisses Deputy Who Triggered Pribor Row

Czech Finance Minister Andrej Babis dismissed his deputy, Martin Pros, who triggered a dispute with the central bank by asking the regulator to investigate the setting of interbank rates.

Babis had criticized Pros for going to the media shortly after sending the request to central bank Governor Miroslav Singer without discussing it. The minister lost confidence in Pros, who has worked as his deputy since April 2014, the Finance Ministry said in an e-mailed statement on Wednesday. It didn’t elaborate.

Following heightened scrutiny over interbank lending following the Libor scandal, the dispute briefly complicated the contentious alliance in the ruling coalition. Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka, whose ruling Social Democrat party nominated Pros, said that while his actions were a mistake, they weren’t serious enough to warrant his dismissal. Sobotka has also sparred with Babis’s junior-ruling ANO party over selling state assets and welfare spending.

“I believe that deputy Minister Pros was very qualified for his area of responsibility, which was capital markets,” Social Democrat lawmaker Vaclav Votava, head of parliament’s budget committee, told Czech TV on Wednesday.

While the central bank said the allegations were an unfounded attack on the banking industry’s credibility, it has said that it will look at the setting of the Prague Pribor rate.

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