Office for Suppression of Corruption and Organized Crime (USKOK) has indicted two Croatian citizens due to giving and receiving bribes in connection with the overhaul of MiG21 aircraft of Croatian Air Force, reports Večernji List on December 30, 2016.
Indictments were submitted against Josip Čović and Ivica Josipović. Čović is indicted for demanding bribe, which Josipović accepted and paid him the money. At the time, Čović was head of the Maintenance and Overhaul Department of the Aeronautics Technical Institute and a member of the Technical Committee of Ministry of Defence in charge for determining technical capabilities for overhaul of MiG 21 aircraft.
Čović demanded bribes from representatives of two foreign companies in order to secure them better chance for getting the overhaul contract. Representatives of one company did not accept his request, but Josipović promised that Čović would be paid 50,000 euros. Čović took from Josipović at least 10,000 euros on two occasions. The money was paid in January and February 2016.
The scandal broke in March 2016, when media reported about irregularities with overhaul and refurbishment of Croatia’s old MiGs which was conducted in Ukraine. The refurbished MiG-21s were handed over to Croatian Air Force in July 2015 and ever since the planes arrived, problems started to emerge. Eight months later, the Air Force had just three planes available for operations, while five were not operational. According to sources close to the investigation, the investigators found that serial numbers on the chassis of the planes had been changed and that the parts which were changed do not match the ones listed in the documents, raising serious suspicion that the planes could be older than their accompanying documentation claimed.
According to media reports at the time, Croatian Ministry of Defence asked for the funds from the state budget which were the same amount as the Ukrainian offer even before the company was selected through a public tender. The article also claimed that an Israeli company tried to bid for the job but they were declined with an explanation that the public procurement process had already started and that negotiations are already in place with a Ukrainian and a Romanian company.