Saturday, 19 February 2022

Minister Horvat Denies Guilt, Anti-Corruption Office Demands Remand in Custody

ZAGREB, 19 Feb 2022 - Construction Minister Darko Horvat said he was not guilty of abuse of office during Saturday's questioning at the USKOK anti-corruption office, according to his attorney, while USKOK demanded he be remanded in custody.

Horvat's attorney Vladimir Terešak told the press his client answered all the questions. "He believes that he did not commit the crime he is being accused of and that no one made any illegal gains."

Later today a Zagreb County Court judge will decide whether to remand Horvat in custody.

Terešak said he did not know on what grounds USKOK was demanding remand.

He said Horvat was being accused of abuse of office and powers, specifically, that certain companies which applied to a tender were given right of priority regardless of the required documents.

Horvat is denying that and claims that the ministry's services handled that and not him, he added.

Terešak said Horvat was accused of abuse of office alongside a number of persons and that all the evidence was from another case in which his former aide Ana Mandac, a suspect in this case, was also accused.

"The minister doesn't do that, but the ministry's expert services. He knows neither how many points one has nor is he acquainted with it. He signed what the expert service, that is (Mandac), gave him to sign, believing it was right."

Mandac was relieved of duty after becoming a suspect in the wind park case alongside former state secretary Josipa Rimac. According to the media, the accused in that case have started plea-bargaining.

According to unofficial information, the police are investigating Deputy Prime Minister Boris Milošević besides Horvat.

Hina has learned from sources close to the investigation that the police are also investigating Regional Development and EU Funds Ministry state secretary Velimir Žunac, the director of the administration for assisted areas, Katica Mišković, and former minister Tomislav Tolušić.

For more, check out our politics section.

Saturday, 19 February 2022

State Attorney's Office says Won't Comment on PM's Statement After Minister's Arrest

ZAGREB, 19 Feb 2022 - The State Attorney's Office (DORH) said on Saturday that it and the attorney general would not comment on Prime Minister Andrej Plenković's call on DORH earlier today to inform the public about the reasons for the urgent arrest of Construction Minister Darko Horvat.

The competent state attorney's office and the USKOK anti-corruption office are taking action in line with the law, DORH said, adding that when the legal conditions have been met, the competent state attorney's office will provide the public with the relevant information.

Horvat was brought to USKOK's headquarters after 2.30 pm after he was arrested and his house was searched on suspicion of abuse of office.

If, after interrogating him, USKOK requests that he be remanded in custody, the decision will be made by a Zagreb County Court judge.

Hina has learned from sources close to the investigation that besides Horvat and Deputy Prime Minister Boris Milošević, the police are investigating Regional Development and EU Funds Ministry state secretary Velimir Žunac, and the director of the administration for assisted areas, Katica Mišković.

Among the suspects are also former minister Tomislav Tolušić and Horvat's former aide Ana Mandac.

According to unofficial information, the police are looking into the allocation of funds from an enterprise development programme in areas populated by national minorities.

For more, check out our politics section.

Saturday, 19 February 2022

Grbin: Election Only Salvation for Croatia

ZAGREB, 19 Feb 2022 - Social Democratic Party (SDP) leader Peđa Grbin said on Saturday, in reference to the arrest of Minister Darko Horvat, that after more than 20 years a member of the government has been arrested, underscoring that the only thing that can save Croatia now is an election.

"Today, after more than 20 years, a member of the Croatian government has been arrested. A minister who is in office has been arrested for something that he did as a member of the government. Not just any minister, but the one who hasn't done anything to help the people in Zagreb and Banovina to reconstruct their houses. A minister to whom Andrej Plenković evidently owes something if he keeps him in the government after everything," Grbin told reporters.

He believes that this is the time to act promptly and that the situation needs to be resolved today already.

"How is it possible for a minister who is at the police and giving a statement to do anything his job requires in the days to come without any problems? Instead, we have an arrogant prime minister, we have a man with the manners of a dictator who is bothered because his excellent week has been ruined and someone disturbed him on Saturday morning," said Grbin.

He warned that to top it all the HDZ, "a party from which we have seen this before," is now trying to implicate the State Attorney's Office (DORH) and the judiciary in the whole story.

"That is diverting the focus, that is what Plenković tried to do today and we will not allow it. Next week already the Judiciary, Domestic Policy and National Security Committee will be convened. The HDZ (Croatian Democratic Union) has to say whether it agrees for the committee to be convened and there DORH has to respond to all the questions put to it," added Grbin.

He added that he expects Attorney General Zlata Hrvoj Šipek to make a statement on this case, but not in a phone call or tete-a-tete with the prime minister, but before the legislature, media and citizens.

He believes that if Horvat will fall, the whole government should fall too and after that citizens will choose who they want to lead the country.

Horvat should not be allowed to continue in his office as a minister even if he is released from custory later today, he said. "This needs to end as soon as possible and this is Andrej Plenković's responsibility."

Commenting on the extension of the deadline to use EU funds for post-earthquake reconstruction, Grbin said Plenković "crawled in Brussels" to fix what Horvat "mucked up."

"This is the moment when all this has to end and it is left up to citizens to decide in which direction we should continue. If it's true that this case involves another minister, a deputy prime minister and a former minister, a state secretary and the director of a department... literally half the government is under investigation for committing crimes. Who can say at the moment that they are running this country?"

"We have a debate on a vote of no confidence in Minister Horvat (in the Sabor) on Wednesday. There is also the situation with (Economy) Minister Ćorić where documents exist, not just depositions, on his deep involvement in corruption, as a result of which all of us have dearer electricity bills," Grbin said.

As far as Plenković is concerned, it's business as usual, and if that's the case, then Croatia is no longer a state but a failed project, yet it has never been that and never will be, he concluded.

For more, check out our politics section.

Saturday, 19 February 2022

Čačić: Horvat Has to Go, Reformists' Support Depends on Police Operation's Results

ZAGREB, 19 Feb 2022 - People's Party - Reformists president Radimir Čačić said on Saturday the arrested Construction Minister Darko Horvat has to leave the government and that the "further scope and results of the police operation will be the basis for the party's decision on supporting the Andrej Plenković cabinet."

Čačić told Hina the fact that this was the first arrest of a minister in office in Croatian history spoke enough and that it should be neither underestimated nor downplayed.

He said the prime minister evidently knew nothing about the police operation and that this showed that he "neither had the information nor influenced the judiciary, which has often been claimed."

Čačić said statements that the arrest was made to avoid a parliamentary debate on Horvat's competence or incompetence were unworthy of comment.

"There is no prime minister or government that would do that," he said, adding, "If the investigation covers some more ministers, as it seems indications exist, the decisions are not just about Horvat leaving."

Čačić said the question was not whether Horvat would leave or not, but that his leaving was an inevitable fact.

According to him, Horvat's arrest is the culmination of the case of entrepreneur Milenko Bašić in continuation of the case of Josipa Rimac, a former official of the ruling HDZ.

Čačić said he started "the whole story" by reporting Bašić to the police four years ago after Bašić told him, "We know how to reward our friends, we know how to square accounts with our enemies." He said this statement "only proves what kinds of criminal behaviour have root here."

He said it was good that the judiciary was opening and prosecuting crime at all levels without political influence. "These crimes, unquestionably unacceptable, hide much more serious things and show that the system can be corrupted.

"Horvat can no longer be a topic in parliament, he has to go," Čačić said.

Čačić's only party MP, Natalija Martinčević, told Hina that the party's stance was that Horvat must leave the government and that the party would decide on further steps.

For more, check out our politics section.

Saturday, 19 February 2022

Opposition MPs Say One More Case in String of Probes in Ministers

ZAGREB, 19 Feb 2022 - Saturday's breaking news about a police investigation in Minister Darko Horvat and Deputy Prime Minister Boris Milošević over alleged abuse of power in grant disbursement prompted Opposition politicians to make immediate comments about the developments on social networks.

Anka Mrak Taritaš of the GLAS party ironically tweeted that "a new curse has appeared: Avoid Anka Mrak-Taritaš-sponsored motions of no confidence!" She thus referred to the fact that the motion of no confidence against Minister Horvat, she tabled in the parliament, would be on the parlaiment's agenda next week.

Bojan Glavašević of the Green-Left parliamentary bloc, also commented that it could be (in)suitable to have that motion of no confidence next week.

According to unofficial information, the probe is about Horvat's alleged abuse of power in the case of awarding grants to businesses when he served as economy minister, while the opposition now demands his resignation over his incompetence in conducting the post-quake reconstruction.

Krešo Beljak of the HSS party said that the news about a minister of the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) cabinet being implicated in a scandal is nothing new.

Nikola Grmoja of the Bridge party writes on his Facebook account that Horvat will soon be fired and that the next minister to be fired is (Economy Minister Tomislav) Ćorić "against whom we have initiated a vote of no confidence".

It is high time this corrupt government led by Plenković should be ousted and new elections should be called, Grmoja said.

Dalija Orešković of the Centre party called for timely and effective investigations rather than follow-ups to some old stories.

For more, check out our politics section.

Saturday, 19 February 2022

Police Probe is Targeting Horvat and Milošević, Aladrović not Implicated

ZAGREB, 19 Feb (Hina) - A source close to the ongoing investigation into possible abuse of power by a few office-holders told Hina on Saturday morning that the police were conducting the probe into Minister Darko Horvat and Deputy Prime Minister Boris Milošević, however, Labour Minister Josip Aladrović, was not implicated.

The source said that another two suspects are Velimir Žunac, a state secretary in the regional development ministry, and Katica Mišković, who is at the helm of the office for economically assisted areas.

Furthermore, a former minister Tomislav Tolušić, is also among those suspected of abuse of power.

On Saturday morning, media outlets reported that the police were searching the flat of Construction Minister Darko Horvat in connection with his former aide Ana Mandac implicated in the scandal dubbed wind parks where the main suspect is a former state secretary Josipa Rimac.

According to the unofficial information, the ongoing probe relates to the allocation of grants under an aid scheme for crafts and SMEs in the areas populated by ethnic minorities.

There are speculations that the disbursement of grants did not follow the criteria, and it has not yet been revealed the amount of the concerned money.

For more, check out our politics section.

Wednesday, 1 July 2020

Horvat: Investment Cycle in Croatia Continuing

ZAGREB, July 1, 2020 - Economy Minister Darko Horvat on Wednesday said that the investment cycle in Croatia was going on through projects launched by his ministry, research and development projects, and through monitoring entrepreneurs' innovative ideas.

He recalled that the government's measures to bail out the economy during the corona crisis and added that entrepreneurs could still use job keeping incentive measures in June through a shorter working week for employers with more than ten employees on their payroll and the grant is in in the amount of HRK 2,000 a month for each worker.

That measure has also been foreseen for micro-enterprises that have recorded lower incomes and a fall in business activities as a consequence of the coronavirus pandemic, he said.

Today the self-employment incentives scheme has been reactivated and recalled that this scheme had enabled the employment of 19,936 people in the period from October 2016 to March 2020.

 The government has adopted a measure for all those who had previously received incentives for self-employment to expand their business.

Horvat said that the government and relevant ministries have secured funding to support the cash flow for Croatian entrepreneurs to save every job, trade, company, and family-run farm.

The Croatian Agency of SMEs, Innovations, and Investments (HAMAG-BICRO) has received 5,500 applications and secured sufficient liquid funding to secure loans for 3,500 enterprises under unprecedented favourable terms. "They are being issued with an interest rate of 0.25% and a grace period of a year," he added.

Saturday, 26 August 2017

Regatta Dedicated to Renata and Joža Horvat to Take Place on Lastovo in September

It might have taken a long time to organise, but all the efforts proved to be worth it in the end: the first regatta dedicated to Renata and Joža Horvat, two legendary adventurers, will soon take place on Lastovo.