Friday, 9 September 2022

Ex Finance Minister Zdravko Maric Questioned by USKOK

September the 9th, 2022 - Former Croatian Finance Minister Zdravko Maric has been questioned by USKOK (Croatian State Prosecutor's Office for the Suppression of Organised Crime and Corruption), but seemingly only as a witness.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, ex Finance Minister Zdravko Maric was the chairman of the supervisory board of HBOR (Croatian Bank for Reconstruction and Development), and a month and a half before a certain loan was granted, he had a meeting with the investor Milenko Basic from the company C.E.M.P.

Basic had otherwise asked for a loan of 130 million euros to finance an investment, and in the end he was granted a loan of 80 million euros.

USKOK has as such accused former HDZ Minister of Regional Development Gabrijela Zalac and former HDZ State Secretary Josip Rimac of abusing their positions and long-term lobbying and pressuring members of the supervisory board and the bank's management to approve the loan.

It is important to note that former Finance Minister Zdravko Maric, who has managed to dodge his fair share of hot water over the years, has actually not been included in that investigation, so it can now be assumed that he gave his testimony as a witness who was involved in the approval of the aforementioned loan which is of interest to USKOK, 24sata writes.

For more, make sure to check out our dedicated politics section.

Thursday, 1 September 2022

INA Case: How Croatian Government Directly Facilitated Theft of Century

September 1, 2022 - Citizens of the Republic of Croatia are not used to a high level of political culture, honesty, and truthfulness. While in the normal world politicians resign even for the smallest offenses or breaches of duty, in Croatia even those who are proven guilty should be forced out of their positions. Political responsibility and self-criticism simply do not exist. As the INA case unfolds, this becomes more and more apparent.

As Index writes, some statements are too much even for Croatia. It is one thing to cover one's ears, remain silent, and not admit responsibility for certain failures, and it is quite another to claim that these failures are proof of the abilities, moral qualities, and work of those who are responsible for them.

Plenković says that he should be congratulated after the theft of the century

This is what Andrej Plenković said at the press conference after the coalition meeting of the ruling parties where the INA case was discussed: "The key message is that the institutions of the Croatian state, rather the government, were the ones who discovered this case of abuse, not the police or the judicial authorities, but the Office for the Prevention of Money Laundering, a department within the Ministry of Finance". He added that the opposition, instead of demanding elections, should - congratulate the government.

But the facts do not support his arrogant statements. Not only did the government not detect the theft of the century, but it also directly facilitated it. This is the real truth, and it is not difficult to prove it, no matter what Plenković arrogantly claims.

Plenković and the HDZ government directly appointed the INA Administration, at which he is now theatrically "furious"

First of all, the Prime Minister, who claims to be furious with the INA Board, should be reminded that he appointed the people who make up the Croatian quota. According to the agreement, Croatia has the right to three members of the INA Management Board, and they are appointed by the government.

In 2020, Plenković, i.e., the government, appointed Croatian members of the Management Board, with whom the same Plenković is now theatrically "furious". On March 31 of that year, a meeting of the Supervisory Board of INA was held, where new members of the company's Management Board were appointed at the proposal of the government, led by Andrej Plenković: Barbara Dorić, Darko Markotić, and Niko Dalić.

They were the replacement of the previous members, who were also appointed by the HDZ government in 2011, and the prime minister and leader of the HDZ at that time was Jadranka Kosor.

If the Administration appointed by Plenković had done its job, there would have been no theft

If the Board had done its job the case wouldn’t exist, and the Board was appointed by Plenković himself. Admittedly, he only replaced the former HDZ members with a new set, except for one man. That is Niko Dalić, who has been on the INA Management Board for more than a decade. Jadranka Kosor appointed him there in 2011.

If that name doesn’t ring a bell,  remember who managed Agrokor during its collapse and who the ringleader was of the Borg group. For her "services", she was awarded the position of president of the Podravka Management Board in February of this year, which was personally advocated by Plenković. She was even at his place for a kind of job interview, which the media and economists interpreted as the prime minister's direct recruitment in a state-owned company.

Niko Dalić from the INA Management Board is, of course, the husband of Martina Dalić, the Minister of Finance in Plenković's government, who was appointed head of Podravka by Plenković and who led, to put it mildly, the dubious "restructuring" of Agrokor. He is much less exposed in the media, but that is why he survived a whole decade on the INA Management Board.

He was the only one who survived Plenković's change of Croatian members. A trustworthy man, one would say. The current government did not only appoint the Management Board of INA, but also appointed HDZ member Damir Mikuljan as president of the Supervisory Board at the end of last year, and Davor Filipović, a man who had previously been spectacularly defeated in the elections for mayor of Zagreb, as a member.

>> Nacional: Plenković personally chose Dalić and her husband, they have a salary of HRK 200,000

HDZ minister was informed that Ina was losing money. He did nothing and could have prevented the theft

In an interview for N1, Damir Vanđelić, the former head of the Supervisory Board of INA, who was replaced by Damir Mikuljan in December 2021, said that he had informed the authorities, including the then HDZ Minister of Economy Tomislav Ćorić, that INA was losing money.

By the way, Damir Mikuljan, who replaced Damir Vanđelić, is the head of something called the Honorable Court of the HDZ. He will probably decide on the party line of the alleged organiser of the theft of the century, Damir Škugor. The arrested Škugor was also the man of honor for HDZ general secretary Krunoslav Katičić.

That Škugor is active in HDZ was revealed through photos of him hugging Plenković himself and the President of the Croatian Parliament, Goran Jandroković, although the government spokesman claimed before the photos were published that the Prime Minister did not know him.

"Last year in May, we reacted to the Supervisory Board and asked for a session because eight people in high positions in INA were dismissed," said Vanđelić. "I put the topic on for the Supervisory Board at that time, that is May 2021, I asked in English what the plan was when eight people were dismissed. I didn't know about Škugor at the time, but something was happening. Eight good people were dismissed then, they were paid severance pay to leave. That's why I asked what the plan was. We did not receive satisfactory answers."

"The answer was that they were improving the organisation," he added. "I didn't get any answer. I got some calls, mocking us from Supervisory Board because we are problematising the topics of staffing and gas business," he said. "Ćorić told me to politicise and do some other business".

HDZ's Čorić responded: "Vanđelic is very creative in presenting alternative facts". After that statement, evidence was published, an e-mail in which Vanđelić stated that he noticed the "leakage of funds from INA" and informed Ćorić about the problem. Vanđelić sent the mail to his colleagues in the Supervisory Board two weeks earlier and then forwarded it to Ćorić, in which he compared the operations of INA and MOL.

>> Published email in which Vanđelić warned Ćorić that Ina was losing a lot of money

Soon after that, he was removed from the head of the Supervisory Board and was replaced by the previously mentioned Damir Mikuljan, head of the Honorable Court of HDZ.

It is not difficult to notice that just last year, while the theft of the century was taking place, HDZ's staffing in INA was going on. It is arrogant and insulting to the intelligence of the citizens that Plenković claims that the government exposed the theft. By all accounts, the government directly set up Škugor and all the others who made a billion kuna disappear right in front of their noses.

>> Tomislav Ćorić could have prevented the theft of the century. Vuković: This is astonishing

Rakar: The theft was discovered by the banks. It is impossible to declare this a discovery of the government

HDZ's responsibility does not end with staffing at INA. The government is, of course, only a branch of HDZ, and HDZ recruits all over the country.

"I don't see how it is possible to declare the fact that the banks discovered a suspicious payment to the account of a natural person (in no less than a nine-digit amount in kuna) a victory or a great discovery when that same money was created by manipulation and de facto theft from an extremely organised company traded on the stock exchange in which the Republic of Croatia possesses almost 50 percent of the ownership, the president and several members of the Supervisory Board and several members of the company's Management Board. In addition, the entire operation took place through another company, which is owned by a utility company owned by the county, and CroPlin (which is 100% owned by the same INA)", Marko Rakar from the Association of Authorized Fraud Investigators told Index.

"This is proof that the mechanisms of management, control, and supervision in a whole series of companies, but also the state and counties, have completely failed", he concluded.

One of the channels through which money was extracted from INA is The Gas Company of Eastern Slavonia, headed by Marija Ratkić, also a member of HDZ. She defended herself before USKOK that she was only carrying out the orders of her party colleague Damir Škugor.

The Gas Plant Eastern Slavonia is owned by the Vukovar-Srijem County, whose prefect is Damir Dekanić. You guessed it, he is also an HDZ member. He has been a member since 1990 and since 2020 the vice president of the party in Vukovar-Srijem County. You don't need to guess a lot to conclude which party is recruiting in Plinara of Eastern Slavonia.

>> Gas plant revenues from the theft of the century jumped sharply last year. No one found this strange

Fina praised the company through which the theft from INA happened. And Fina, of course, is managed by HDZ

The ones who reported the suspicious events that led to the exposure of the theft of the century in Croatia are - private banks. And in addition to the internal controls of INA and Gas Plant Eastern Slavonia at least two state institutions, Fina and the Tax Administration, also failed.

The first one had all the information related to the company OMS-Upravljanje d.o.o., through which money was primarily extracted from INA. "The small and micro-entrepreneurs with the highest profit for the period in 2021 were: CENTRICE ZAGREB d.o.o., HT HOLDING d.o.o. and SUPERNOVA BUZIN d.o.o. (small) and CENTAR BUNDEK d.o.o. in bankruptcy, BELVEDERE d.d. in bankruptcy and OMS-UPRALJANJE d.o.o. (micro)", announced Fina in a press release just two months ago.

According to information from Fina, OMS-Upravljanje is in third place among the micro-entrepreneurs with the highest profit. Their profit was HRK 117 million 277 thousand. In 2021, OMS-Upravljanje had a higher profit than all those who were on the list of the top 5 small entrepreneurs.

The fact that a micro-company with one employee founded in 2019 had a higher profit than most medium-sized entrepreneurs, which have from 50 to 250 employees, should have immediately set off an alarm in Fina. But nobody reacted, and by chance or not, the head of Fina is another HDZ member, Dražen Čović.

>> The key company from the INA theft was on Fina's top list. Nobody even blinked

Plenković insults the intelligence of citizens

Nothing was suspicious, and no one knew anything. And many not only could but had to know. They get paid to do it. Internal control and management of INA, external auditors of INA, internal control and external auditors of Gas Plant Eastern Slavonia, FINA, Tax Administration, and many others.

The impression is that many people knew, or at least more than have been arrested (so far). HDZ appears in one way or another connected with the name of everyone involved with this theft of the century, whether it was a person directly involved or someone who should have reacted to obvious signs that something strange was going on.

If Plenković had just said today that HDZ and the government have nothing to do with what is happening around INA, it would be a blatant lie. Claiming that the HDZ government is responsible for uncovering the looting is a step beyond lying, making fools of the citizens of the Republic of Croatia.

The arrogance of that statement alone is enough for resignation, and as it has been proven that HDZ and Plenković directly staffed INA while the theft of the century was taking place, the resignation should be insisted on because of the direct responsibility for the disappearance of billions of kuna.

For more, make sure to check out our dedicated Politics section.

Thursday, 21 July 2022

HDZ Member Franjo Lucic to be Jailed for Attempts to Bribe Journalist

July the 21st, 2022 - Influential HDZ member Franjo Lucic, HDZ a member of parliament in the last convocation, is set to be imprisoned for one year for bribing Telegram journalist Drago Hedl, the Supreme Court has decided.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, in a session which was held back on June the 7th, 2022, the Council of the Supreme Court of the Republic of Croatia accepted the appeal of the state attorney, and the verdict of the first-instance court in the sentencing decision of HDZ member Franjo Lucic was changed in such a way that the accused was sentenced to a prison term of one year for offering a bribe to the aforementioned journalist, instead of being given community service.

With that decision, the defendant's appeal was rejected as unfounded, the Supreme Court announced.

The Supreme Court considers that the first-instance court, after correctly determining mitigating circumstances on the part of the accused (who has no criminal record otherwise), overestimated the circumstances, ignoring the fact that the accused committed a serious crime of corruption against a journalist, thereby grossly violating the provisions of Article 38 of the Constitution of the Republic of Croatia, which guarantees the freedom of thought and expression, which includes, in particular, freedom of the press and other means of communication, freedom of speech and public speaking, although as a member of the Croatian Parliament he (Franjo Lucic) was obliged to protect and promote the rights of citizens guaranteed by the Constitution of the Republic of Croatia.

For not writing and publishing a certain text, HDZ member Franjo Lucic offered the journalist three times more compensation than the media company would be paying him.

As a reminder, in the indictment from back in March 2018, USKOK accused HDZ member Franjo Lucic that on July the 26th, 2017 in Pozega, he offered Telegram journalist Drago Hedl, who was collecting information about his business and financial transactions as a representative of the Croatian Parliament and his companies, a monetary reward to not write about information that he collected because the article would harm him as a member of parliament and as an entrepreneur.

Lucic was accused of telling the journalist in a telephone conversation, which Hedl recorded, that for not writing the text he would pay him three times more than the compensation he would receive from the media company and that the payout of said money was "not in question", as long as the gathering of information about him and his companies would not be made public.

For more, make sure to check out our dedicated politics section.

Monday, 11 July 2022

EPPO's First Croatian Indictee Makes Plea Deal

ZAGREB, 11 July 2022 - The first indictee of the European Public Prosecutor’s Office (EPPO) in Croatia, Danijel Vinković, on Monday pleaded guilty to subsidy fraud worth €1 million, settling for a ten-month prison sentence which was replaced with community service.

The Zagreb County Court was to have decided today on the EPPO's indictment against Vinković, who pleaded guilty before the indictment panel and reaching an agreement with the prosecution, Hina learned at the court.

The businessman from Međimurje was charged with applying to the Paying Agency for Agriculture, Fisheries and Rural Development for a HRK 7.4 million grant in 2020. Of that amount, 85% was from the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development and the rest from the Croatian state budget.

According to the EPPO's indictment, Vinković falsified documents on his eligibility for the aid. His application was rejected because the Paying Agency noticed that he did not meet the eligibility criteria.

The Paying Agency said earlier it paid HRK 176,435 in direct aid to Vinković from 2018 to March 2021 and HRK 3.9 million to his father from 2012 to May this year for farming equipment.

Vinković was indicted this past May and the trial was held at the Zagreb County Court which, under the law, is the only court in Croatia with jurisdiction over trials initiated by the EPPO.

(€1 = HRK 7.5)

For more, check out our politics section.

Wednesday, 25 May 2022

European Public Prosecutor's Office Indicts Ten Croatians for Bribery

ZAGREB, 25 May 2022 - The European Public Prosecutor's Office (EPPO) has indicted ten Croatians, including the Mayor of Nova Gradiška, Vinko Grgić, former Velika Gorica mayor Dražen Barišić and entrepreneur Krešo Petek.

The EPPO reported that the indictment was filed after an investigation of active and passive corruption and abuse of office between 2018 and 2021.

All four cases are related to construction projects with a total value of €22.6 million and the damage to the EU budget was largely prevented thanks to the efficacy of the investigators, the EPPO said in a statement.

Corruption in Nova Gradiška

Mayor Grgić is being charged with accepting two bribes amounting to €15,000 from the first accused Krešo Petek in order to secure the assignment of two construction projects.

The two projects were for a recycling centre and a solar power plant. The first project was valued at €900,000, of which the amount of €562,000 was financed by the European Union Cohesion Fund, and the value of the second project was €700,000, of which 85% was funded by the European Regional Development Fund.

Three other suspects were involved in these two corruption cases by helping Grgić and Petek in giving the bribes, abusing their office, and illegal favouritism in public procurement.

The recycling project was then awarded to companies connected to Petek who paid Grgić the agreed amount of the bribe.

This meant that the European Cohesion Fund was defrauded of €53,000 and the Town of Nova Gradiška of €32,500. 

The solar power plant project was not awarded as Petek and the others accused had already been arrested.

Abuse of office in Velika Gorica

Petek is also accused of arranging with former Velika Gorica mayor Barišić for the construction of a wastewater treatment plant and a supervisory management system as well as for the renovation of the public lighting system to be awarded to his companies.

The estimated value for the wastewater treatment plant project was €14 million, of which the European Union Cohesion Fund financed 67.34%. The value of the renovation project of the public lighting system was €7 million and it was co-financed by the European Regional Development Fund.

In these two cases, too, there were three accomplices who helped Barišić in abusing office and influence-peddling in public procurement procedures.

In both projects, although all necessary steps were taken in the public procurement process to select the companies connected to Petek, decisions to that effect were not made due to the arrest of all five accused persons, the EPPO reported.

For more, make sure to check out our dedicated business section.

Sunday, 20 February 2022

Horvat Scandal Too Much Even for Croatia, Time for Plenkovic to Step Down?

February the 20th, 2022 - The Darko Horvat scandal which has dominated the press over the last few days has been too much even by Croatian standards according to some. One Index journalist, Goran Vojkovic, believes it's time for PM Andrej Plenkovic to step down.

As Index/Goran Vojkovic writes, the State Attorney's Office Act states that ''any form of influence is prohibited, especially any form of coercion against state attorneys and deputy state attorneys, the abuse of public authority and personal influence, and the use of media and public appearances in criminal cases prosecuted ex officio and in cases where the state attorney or deputy the State Attorney performs his powers and duties in the protection of the property of the Republic of Croatia.''

It was a very difficult, rainy Saturday for the Prime Minister, it was a bit like the sky was crying for the HDZ (again). Things should have been completely different during that day. Over in Brussels, Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic managed to get an extension of the deadline in which Croatia has to spend European Union money for reconstruction, because Croatia didn't manage to spend any of that money on time. The newly arrested Minister of Physical Planning, Construction and State Property, Darko Horvat, is in charge of this reconstruction process. It seems now that the Horvat scandal is only just beginning.

In addition to the above, Croatia was visited by an American carrier, which is, in fact, a matter of global relations and is nothing new for the country, the two nations from each side of the Atlantic Ocean have been allies in this regard since back in 1952, when Tito, dressed up in his white uniform, walked along the bridge of the American carrier Coral Sea. But in a country full of scandals, while energy prices are rampant, any extra time will come in handy for the post-earthquake reconstruction that we didn't bother to do and of course, for a walk on this American carrier.

The Prime Minister's easy Saturday morning coffee was interrupted by the Horvat scandal, and that's never a good way in which to start the day.

The prime minister was probably planning a quiet family morning donning a comfortable dressing gown, sipping a coffee, surfing the internet on his tablet which would have been packed with praise and good news and enjoying the view of the calming Zagreb rain through the window of his warm apartment. And then came some very awkward news - a search of the house of the Minister of Physical Planning, Construction and State Property. The Horvat scandal had broken.

This would never be good news, but it was a very awkward story indeed for Saturday, especially because Andrej Plenkovic himself had said a few days ago: "I will not be removing anyone until the end of my term." The kiss of death? Maybe. Moreover, as the slow recovery process after the earthquakes of 2020 was the reason for the opposition in parliament to demand the removal of Minister Horvat, just two weeks ago Plenkovic signed a sixteen-page document defending the newly arrested minister.

Plenkovic responded to Saturday's events and the Darko Horvat scandal with a direct verbal attack on the State Attorney's Office, asking for explanations, and his entire appearance in front of the camera can be described as: "Do you even know who I am?!"

According to the State Attorney's Office Act, the State Attorney's Office doesn't have to justify what it does to the PM. It is an autonomous and independent judicial body, not a government body, and it isn't under an executive branch. Just asking them for additional talks and some special explanations to the Prime Minister can be interpreted as an attempt to influence them, which is strictly forbidden. Andrej Plenkovic, very well versed in law himself, knows that all too well.

But why is Plenkovic so nervous about the unfolding Horvat scandal? Because he is personally responsible for the selection of Minister Horvat, as well as every member of the government. Let us remember - the person who collects 76 signatures in the parliament receives the mandate to form the government from the President of the Republic and becomes the Prime Minister when the Parliament confirms the election of the Prime Minister. Ministers don't come to their positions by way of interviews and tenders, they're people trusted by the future prime minister himself, who he himself proposes for the position.

If any of these people nominated by Plenkovic personally for the highest office in the country have been arrested on suspicion of very serious corruption, then this is not only the problem of that minister, but also the problem of Plenkovic on a very personal level. Why would we trust him any more if he can't put his team in order? Nobody imposed these people on him, he guaranteed both the deputies and the people of Croatia that they were the best choices for their respective positions.

Does Plenkovic still guarantee the knowledge, ability and honesty of his ministers?

Plenkovic repeatedly vouched for all these people, for their ability, honour and honesty. Therefore, we completely agree that he shouldn't remove anyone by the end of his term, but should resign, himself, as Prime Minister of Croatia.

The Prime Minister can't keep repeating until the end of the century that he didn't know about the problematic behaviours of the people he himself elected or at a lower level signed for their appointment. He, by proposing these people to these positions, vouched for them personally. As far as the legal responsibility of Minister Horvat is concerned, it is, of course, a matter for the courts, but political responsibility for this affair, this crisis and this shame (because of the brazen inaction of Minister Horvat, Plenkovic was forced to ask the EU for a new deadline for the spending of the funds from the Solidarity Fund) is on Andrej Plenkovic.

The news that Plenkovic fired Minister Horvat at his request doesn't change anything. It is only a small legal maneuver. Horvat knows that he cannot remain in office, and in this way he makes things easier for the party chief.

If anyone knows how to embarrass this country - HDZ definitely knows

But, realistically, it's highly unlikely that Plenkovic will decide to resign on the back of the Horvat scandal. He has enough dogs in his fight, and most of the opposition is not going to want new elections, they wouldn't be re-elected to the parliament. In addition, his resignation would mean the end of Plenkovic's political career instead of its continuation somewhere else a bit more flashy, let's say in the European Commission. Even now, it will be difficult for Plenkovic to explain that billions intended for the reconstruction should have been managed by the minister who has now been arrested. If anyone knows how to embarrass this country, then HDZ definitely knows.

For more, check out our politics section.

Sunday, 30 January 2022

Pleso Airport Police Head and Two Others Being Investigated by USKOK

January the 30th, 2022 - Zagreb's Pleso Airport police head is being investigated by USKOK (Croatian State Prosecutor's Office for the Suppression of Organised Crime and Corruption or Bureau for Combating Corruption and Organised Crime).

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, based on the criminal report released by the Zagreb Police, USKOK issued its decision to open an investigation against three Croatian citizens (born in 1982, 1965 and 1969) about whom there is reasonable suspicion of the commitment of the criminal offenses of the abuse of office, the incitement to commit abuse of office and trading in influence (influence peddling), according to a report from Dnevnik.hr.

There is a well-founded suspicion that the first defendant, in the period from April the 1st, 2021 to January the 27th, 2022 in Zagreb and Velika Gorica, as the head of the Pleso Airport Police Station, allegedly agreed for the second defendant to be allowed to pass through Zagreb International Airport's customs with goods without being checked.

Either personally or on his orders, through his subordinate police officers, without conducting any border and/or customs control, he allegedly made it possible for the individual in question to avoid the customs control of his luggage in which he carried clothes and footwear with non-original markings of various brands acquired while in Turkey, with the apparent intention to resell them on the black market here in Croatia. In this way, he also enabled him to avoid the collection of due customs duties/the confiscation of the goods.

The mayor parked free of charge

During the months of August and October 2021, the third accused person, the mayor of Ivanic Grad, allegedly abused his position in Velika Gorica and Ivanic Grad. He allegedly asked the head of the Pleso Airport Police Station to allow him to park the personal vehicle he was using without paying any fees, as well as to keep that vehicle at Pleso Airport Police Station's car park during his trip.

The mayor was aware that this car park was intended only for the official needs of the Pleso Airport Police Station. He succeeded in leaving his car there because his engagement was allegedly secured by subordinate police officers from the Chief of the Pleso Airport Police Station.

USKOK has proposed to the investigating judge of the Zagreb County Court to order the pre-trial detention of one of the defendants.

For more, check out our lifestyle section.

Friday, 28 January 2022

Milanović Accuses Plenković Government as Most Corrupt Yet

ZAGREB, 28 Jan 2022 - President Zoran Milanović on Friday accused the government of Prime Minister Andrej Plenković as the most corrupt Croatian government yet.

"Plenković is protecting the people who are simply corrupt. I cannot call it any other way," Milanović said in an interview with RTL television.

Milanović said that Plenković's chief of staff Zvonimir Frka Petešić had deliberately registered his residence on Dugi Otok island so that he could qualify for a state-owned apartment in Zagreb. 

Frka Petešić "is fully aware that what he has done is punishable under the law, yet he enjoys the prime minister's protection," he added.

Milanović rejected the idea of his being an opposition leader in Croatia. "Not only am I not, but I feel bad in this position. All this that I am saying, which I have to say and will keep on saying, is just an unnecessary burden to me. This should not be my job."

For more, check out our politics section.

Sunday, 2 January 2022

EU Funds Misuse in Croatia: 35 Alleged Cases Already Under Investigation

January 2, 2022 - The European Public Prosecutor's Office (EPPO) in Zagreb's Ilica currently has 35 cases indicating possible EU funds misuse.

The State Attorney's Office submitted 25 cases of EU funds misuse after 10 November, the date after which they were obliged to submit cases within the possible competence of the European Prosecutor's Office, reports Jutarnji List. Until that date, the State Attorney's Office had submitted 10 such cases, including the one on the so-called affair software that resulted in the arrest of former Minister Gabrijela Žalac. The former minister decided that the MRRFEU would make this purchase at a price much higher than the market price for the development of software with such technical specifications and functionalities.

It is alleged that, in order to carry out what was agreed, the former minister first decided, in 2017, to conduct a negotiated procurement procedure without prior publication of a public invitation to tender, with an overestimated procurement value of HRK 9,860,000.00 (EUR +/- 1.31 million); and in that process, the companies linked to the second suspect were invited to submit their bids.

A total of 35 cases are on the table of Tamara Laptoš, who heads the European Prosecutor's Office, which also includes Tomislav Kalember and Sani Ljubičić, but that does not mean that as many investigations are being conducted. Namely, these are cases submitted by the State Attorney's Office in which suspicions of misuse of European money are expressed.

The European Public Prosecutor's Office investigates and prosecutes the following types of fraud and other criminal offenses affecting the EU's financial interests: expenditure and revenue fraud, VAT fraud (if involving two or more Member States and worth at least 10 million), money laundering of the EU budget, active and passive corruption or embezzlement affecting the EU's financial interests and participation in a criminal organization if its activities are aimed at committing crimes against the EU budget.

For more, check out our politics section.

Sunday, 14 November 2021

Supreme Court Acquits Former HDZ PM Ivo Sanader in HEP-Dioki Affair

November the 14th, 2021 - Former HDZ PM Ivo Sanader is known for having been accused of being involved in multiple scandals and affairs, and his long lasting legal procedures are just as well known to the Croatian public. The Supreme Court, however, has just acquitted him in one affair.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, the Supreme Court has partially reversed and partially upheld the acquittal of the Zagreb County Court in the case of former HDZ PM Ivo Sanader in the well known HEP-Dioki case along with Ivan Mravko and Robert Jezic. Part of it has become statute-barred (no longer legally enforceable as a prescribed period of limitation has lapsed), and the acquittal of Sanader has been confirmed for the second part of the indictment, the media has reported.

"On the appeal of the State Attorney, ex officio, the Supreme Court of the Republic of Croatia has reversed the acquittal of the Zagreb County Court and dismissed the charge of one criminal offense of inciting abuse of office against two defendants, and upheld the first-instance acquittal for the second offense of incitement to the abuse of office and authority against the same two defendants. The first-instance verdict acquitted the two defendants of the charges of committing the two criminal offenses of inciting abuse of office and authority,'' the Supreme Court said in a statement recently.

Since back in 2012, the prosecution has charged former HDZ PM Ivo Sanader with inciting former HEP CEO Ivan Mravko to pay out a fifteen million kuna loan to Robert Jezic's company (Dioki) and sell electricity below market prices, damaging the state budget by nineteen million kuna.

For more, make sure to check out our dedicated politics section.

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