Opposition Slams Government for Agrokor Book Launch Spectacle

By 30 October 2018

ZAGREB, October 30, 2018 - Social Democratic Party (SDP) leader Davor Bernardić wondered on Tuesday why former economy minister Martina Dalić and Agrokor's first emergency administrator Ante Ramljak had been dismissed if everything in the process of salvaging the conglomerate was orderly, clear and transparent, and added there was nothing more absurd than the fact that it was cronies who spoke about the collapse of crony capitalism at the presentation of Dalić's book, "Agrokor: The Collapse of Crony Capitalism."

"Yesterday, the Borg group celebration that they organised publicly was attended by the whole lot that Croatia has been suffering under for the past 27 years and who should be held responsible for why people are emigrating, why pensioners are living so hard, why wages are still exceptionally low in Croatia. While they were celebrating the way they came to wealth, workers in Konzum (retail chain in Agrokor) are still working for 2,900 kuna a month and that is the moral of this story," Bernardić said.

He recalled that Martina Dalić and Ante Ramljak stepped down. They were in fact replaced for siphoning money for consulting services which Plenković himself later admitted by replacing them and calling on the consultants to return that money. "Hence my question: if everything was in order, clear and transparent why did they have to leave then. Yesterday we were able to see an entire stream of people who in the 1990s participated in the criminal transition and privatisation, the effects of which citizens are still feeling today and we could see the participants in the Borg group, their friends and collaborators. The only person missing was the Chief State Attorney," SDP's leader said.

Referring to the establishment of a new parliamentary inquiry commission into Agrokor, Bernardić said that the "Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) and Plenković abolished the first Inquiry Commission, removed Dalija Orešković from the helm of the Conflict of Interest Commission and Dinko Cvitan from the position of chief state prosecutor."

"They are trying to remove anyone who stands in their way, who doesn't fit into their vision of the state, who aren't part of the cartel. Their public attempt to iron out Martina Dalić's image and the Borg group's public party, is an attempt to continue acting according to their usual model of selling off Croatia," Bernardić concluded.

GLAS: The book should have been entitled “The Victory of Crony Capitalism”

President of the GLAS party, Anka Mrak Taritaš said that the title of Dalić's book is not right and that it should have been entitled “The Victory of Crony Capitalism”. “I think the time has come for those in government to say that yesterday was a celebration of crony capitalism and that it be proclaimed a public holiday," Mrak Taritaš said.

"Yesterday was characterised by two things – everyone was at the book promotion and yesterday and today we are hearing about that book but everyone is forgetting two facts, one is that the entire process was non-transparent and the public was not involved and they are forgetting that people who made a fortune in that process had to leave," she said.

She called on the HDZ to allow the establishment of the new "Inquiry Commission into Agrokor and show their triumph to the very end, but that is what they are a bit afraid of."

HDZ: There's no way a new Agrokor inquiry commission will be set up

The chairman of the parliamentary group of the ruling Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) party Branko Bačić said on Tuesday there was no way that a new inquiry commission would be established to look into the so-called Hotmail affair, as was being demanded by the opposition led by the MOST party.

Speaking to the press in the parliament, Bačić said that a commission could not be formed because court proceedings had been launched in this case, adding that the USKOK anti-corruption body had examined the circumstances surrounding the scandal and dismissed the criminal complaint in question, filed by the Živi Zid party.

"It's not that we perhaps wouldn't want this commission, but it's because the law says so. The purpose of a commission would be to examine the circumstances that preceded the adoption of the law on emergency administration, including financial aspects, the accuracy of financial statements, the financial situation, the relationship with the public sector when it comes to the financing of Agrokor. And this was all included in the investigation that was upheld by the County Court, which has opened court proceedings," Bačić said.

The law on inquiry commissions says that a commission cannot be formed or must cease its work the moment court proceedings have been initiated, as was the case with the initial Agrokor inquiry commission, Bačić said. "USKOK has found no grounds for criminal liability when it comes to e-mail correspondence between members of the task force for Agrokor, which included a former deputy prime minister Martina Dalić. So there is no need, or legal possibility, for parliament to conduct an inquiry if that is being done by the judiciary," Bačić said.

The Hotmail affair concerns members of a mailing group involved in drafting the so-called Lex Agrokor bill, some of whom later became consultants in the restructuring of the indebted Agrokor food and retail conglomerate.

If you want to more about the Agrokor affair, click here.