Prime Minister: Agrokor Transcripts Are Attack on Government

By 24 August 2018

ZAGREB, August 24, 2018 - Prime Minister Andrej Plenković would not give concrete answers on Thursday when asked about the publication of deposition transcripts concerning the Agrokor conglomerate, saying it was "an orchestrated attack on the government."

"All this has been orchestrated on the government's first day (1st meeting after summer recess), during the Uljanik crisis, following the crisis with Health Minister Kujundžić," Plenković said.

Despite reporters' insistence, he would not answer questions relating to a deposition given to investigators by former economy minister Martina Dalić concerning Agrokor. "I have responded to that many times. You have those contacts in your mobiles, so ask them," he said.

According to the transcripts, made public by N1 TV, Plenković and the leadership of his HDZ party were acquainted from the start with the formation of a task force for the indebted Agrokor, which was initiated by the MOST party, provided Finance Minister Zdravko Marić, a former Agrokor executive, was not involved.

The transcripts also say Marić attended more meetings on Agrokor than he said to the Conflict of Interest Commission, and that Dalić blocked some media reports on the crisis in Croatia's largest private company.

Asked about it, Plenković reiterated this was a "finished story" on which the State Prosecutor's Office and the Conflict of Interest Commission had made their conclusions. "I have no time for details," he added.

He called "misinformation" the claim that he had met former Agrokor owner Ivica Todorić more than twice. "This misinformation of yours on how many meetings there were with Mr. Todorić... You and those like you should ask yourselves that and go backwards. I have said many times that Mr. Todorić was in the government building twice. Don't put these things on the web or ask them, for your own credibility," Plenković told a N1 reporter.

He would not say if the government's emergency administration in Agrokor could have been more transparent. "We have talked about this so many times. If you now wish to play the game of some tiny parties which resemble clowns more than political parties, play it. I have no time for that."

He reiterated the public should be grateful to the government and Dalić because Croatia avoided the biggest financial crisis and an economic crash. "Everything we did, we did in the interest of jobs, the stability of the company, the rescue of family farms, small and medium enterprises. All that without using money from the state budget."

MOST party leader Božo Petrov said on Thursday that transcripts of depositions by former economy minister Martina Dalić and former emergency administrator in Agrokor Ante Ramljak, released by the N1 commercial broadcaster, show that they had lied to the public and a parliamentary inquiry commission.

On Thursday morning, N1 published depositions made to the Office of the Chief State Prosecutor (DORH) by Dalić and Ramljak and another witness, Zoran Besak. Later it also aired Petrov's comments. "What is there to say when first you have a memo from a minister sent to the Conflict of Interest Commission and then you change your deposition, and now that same minister, when asked whether he lied, says, 'That's a hard question'," Petrov told N1.

Reporters asked Finance Minister Zdravko Marić whether he had lied to the Conflict of Interest Commission about the number of meetings of the Agrokor task group that he attend, considering that, according to a deposition released, he consulted the task force during seven meetings and not two as he had told the Commission.

MOST initiated the task force with the condition that the finance minister be excluded from the entire process. When asked by reporters whether he had lied, Marić said, "That's a difficult question you are asking. I haven't lied to anyone."

"Now we see that they lied, not only to the public, but also in parliament, that they didn't tell the truth to the parliamentary inquiry commission," Petrov said.

"I think the question is how sincere they are, why they don't want a parliamentary commission," Petrov said. "The Croatian people deserve the truth," he said and added, "They need to make something of Croatia. If they don't know how, then they should step down," he concluded.