Agrokor Deposition Transcripts Leak, Did Officials Lie?

By 23 August 2018

ZAGREB, August 23, 2018 - Finance Minister Zdravko Marić said on Thursday that he had not seen the whole transcript of depositions by former economy minister Martina Dalić and other witnesses questioned by the Office of the Chief State Prosecutor (DORH) which indicate, according to the commercial broadcaster N1, that Marić had been at more meetings about Agrokor than what he told the Conflict of Interest Commission.

"The only thing I can say is that DORH has dismissed the charges filed over this topic and I consider the matter to be closed," Marić said.

In reference to a part of the transcript which read that Marić advised a working group set up to tackle the issue of the debt-laden private Agrokor Group, Marić said that his actions were solely in the interest of protecting national interests.

Asked by the press whether he had lied, when questioned by the Conflict of Interest Commission, about the exact number of meetings which he had attended, Marić responded: "A very difficult question. I didn't lie anyone."

"I reiterate once again that the criminal report has been dismissed and in all meetings which I attended I took part only to defend the economic and national interests of Croatia and the interests of taxpayers."

Other ministers, who were asked by the press about this topic while arriving at Government House for a cabinet meeting, said that they did not believe media allegations and speculation.

According to a report by the N1 broadcaster, the depositions indicate that Marić had attended seven and not two meetings regarding this topic. On Wednesday evening, N1 released transcripts of the deposition that Dalić gave to USKOK, Croatia's anti-corruption police, in which she talked about the government's handling of the Agrokor crisis.

The transcripts also include depositions given to investigators by Agrokor crisis manager Ante Ramljak, and one of Dalić's advisors, Zoran Besak. "The transcripts reveal a number of contentious points regarding the process through which Prime Minister Plenković's government tried to handle the threat of bankruptcy at the food and retail group Agrokor, the largest single company in the country at the time," the broadcaster says.

"After the depositions were made to USKOK investigators, the state prosecutor's office DORH in June dismissed formal charges filed against Dalić, filed by the opposition parties Zivi Zid and Slobodna Hrvatska, on the suspicion of conflict of interest," N1 notes.

The former owner and founder of the Agrokor retail and food group Ivica Todorić, who fled Croatia and moved to Britain when the financial crisis erupted in the conglomerate, said today that "all masks have fallen".

Great Britain is currently conducting the procedure for his extradition to Croatia where he is wanted for white-collar crimes and embezzlement of funds from Agrokor.