INA Case: Biggest Amount Frozen by Anti-Money Laundering Office Ever

By 29 August 2022
INA Case: Biggest Amount Frozen by Anti-Money Laundering Office Ever
Image: INA/Official Website

ZAGREB, 29 August, 2022 - The freezing of HRK 813 million in the case involving the resale of the INA company's gas is the biggest one in the history of the Anti-Money Laundering Office, which was first informed of possible wrongdoing by banks, office director Ante Biluš said on Monday.

He told the press the amount was frozen in 16 accounts in eight commercial banks and in six open-end investment funds, adding that real estate was frozen too.

If the courts find the money was gained illegally, it will be possible to return it, he said.

Everything started with notifications from "more than one bank" and the money was blocked on Saturday, he said, adding that "the system responded on time."

Asked if he was shocked that money from gas transactions was ending up in the account of a pensioner, Biluš said "it seems a little unusual."

Speaking at the same press conference, Finance Minister Marko Primorac said the uncovering of the scam and the freezing of the money was a result of coordinated action by state bodies, which he said were professional and independent.

Asked about the responsibility of INA's management and supervisory boards, Primorac said he did not know "how these processes in INA work."

"From what I know, one person was agreeing lower prices. If some internal processes allowed that, then it's unusual," he added.

"I don't know how the decisions came to the supervisory board... Everything should be fully investigated and if there is accountability, it should be treated appropriately," the minister said.

In an operation launched on Saturday by the USKOK anti-corruption office and the police, five persons were arrested on suspicion of wrongdoing with INA's natural gas, which was sold below the market price. Allegedly, the company has been defrauded of over HRK 1 billion.

One of the suspects, INA executive Damir Škugor, told investigators he was not guilty and that the gas was sold in line with the company's business policy. Investigators say he paid the money from the contentious transactions into the bank account of his father Dane.