Wednesday, 9 June 2021

Podravka Factory to Undergo Modernisation for Manufacturing of New Products

June the 9th, 2021 - The Podravka factory (Kalnik) in continental Croatia is set to get an enormous cash injection to modernise its facilities and equipment to make way for the production of yet more products from this much loved Croatian company.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Sergej Novosel Vuckovic writes, the Kalnik Podravka factory located in the continental city of Varazdin is being modernised, after which new food products from this globally recognised company will be created.

The company received a huge 19.37 million euro grant from European Union (EU) funds from the Ministry of Agriculture, because the "Investment in the modernisation of fruit and vegetable processing plants, new technologies and new products from the Kalnik factory" project owned by Podravka passed the tender of the rural development programme for the implementation of measure 4.2. 1.

The works, which come with a hefty price tag of 40.6 million kuna include the purchase of new equipment and the reconstruction of the Podravka warehouse, as well as its subsequent conversion into a fully equipped, modern production space.

The new equipment on the cards are a line for the receiving, processing and aseptic filling of fruit, the purchase of additional vacuum boilers, all to increase production capacity, and the packaging equipment this Podravka factory uses will be changed and modernised.

This investment will also introduce a set of brand new products: jams, marmalades, new types of ajvar, vegetable and fruit spreads, fruit fillings and more. This particular Podravka factory in Kalnik is the location in which sterilised and pasteurised vegetables, mustard, horseradish and marinades are otherwise produced.

These investments in the company's Varazdin factory aim, among other things, to achieve a wider and more diverse range of products, which will increase the price competitiveness of Podravka's much loved items on both the Croatian market and indeed on foreign markets.

For more, make sure to follow our dedicated business section.

Saturday, 6 February 2021

Martina Dalic Takes Podravka "Throne": My Reference is Agrokor

February the 6th, 2021 - Martina Dalic, perhaps best known for her role in the weird and rarely wonderful Agrokor saga which dominated the Croatian public and nearly sent the economy down the drain just a few years ago, has come to the helm of the Croatian company Podravka following Marin Pucar's premature death.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, the corporate, but also very much political news of the week is certainly what many as referring to as the "rehabilitation" of former government minister Martina Dalic by appointing her to the position of President of the Management Board of Podravka.

Martina Dalic was the personal choice of Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic, and although the media speculated that some members of the Supervisory Board would oppose it, her appointment was unanimously confirmed by the Supervisory Board on Wednesday. Her term will last until February 2022, because until then the company should have been run by the recently deceased Marin Pucar, who passed away after a battle with an illness.

Although Podravka is two-thirds owned by private capital, pension funds hold almost 49 percent of the shares, and the state has only 24 percent, the company is under "strong pressure" from politics. This, without exception, applies to all policy options, and the “right” to management and staffing is laid from the local to the highest national level. After Pucar's death at the beginning of January, the head of the Croatian Chamber of Commerce, Luka Burilovic, the director of Adris Cromaris, Goran Markulin, and a member of the Management Board of Podravka for Finance, Davor Doko, were all in the race for Podravka's proverbial ''throne''.

"Personally, I'm glad that the proposal for my appointment was made by the largest individual shareholder of the Croatian Government, it means a lot to me," said Martina Dalic after the Supervisory Board session. She added that one of the first steps she intends to take will be to get to know the associates and representatives of the workers, but that she is not yet thinking about the reconstruction of the company's management.

Despite the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and the record decline experienced by the entire domestic economy, by the end of September, Podravka had achieved revenue growth of 3.3 billion kuna (+ 2.8 percen), while sales revenues in the food and pharmaceutical segment also grew. The annual results for 2020 will be announced on February the 26th.

To briefly recall, former Deputy Prime Minister Martina Dalic resigned back in May 2018 after the Borg affair revealed that she coordinated a group of individuals who wrote Lex Agrokor for the Croatian Government without contracts and official decisions, who were then charged for their consulting services to the now disgraced concern.

Martina Dalic still claims that she did nothing wrong in the Agrokor affair - and she even referred to the work she did regarding Agrokor as a ''great experience and reference''.

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Wednesday, 3 February 2021

Following Pucar's Death, Martina Dalic to Become Podravka's Main Woman?

February the 3rd, 2021 - Is former government minister Martina Dalic set to take the late Marin Pucar's place at the head of the much loved Croatian brand Podravka? It might well happen, as has been alleged from several well informed sources.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, the pension funds and the Croatian Government have reached an alleged agreement that former Deputy Prime Minister Martina Dalic, who was previously deeply embroiled in the bizarre and seemingly endless Agrokor saga, will take over the management of the Croatian company Podravka.

Vecernji list was the publication to initially find out this information from informed sources.

The decision should be made at the meeting of Podravka's Supervisory Board which is currently scheduled for Wednesday. Should it be true, former minister Martina Dalic will come to the post at Podravka with the strong support of Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic, who apparently didn't remain indebted to her in any sense at all after Martina Dalic resigned due to criticism of the non-transparency of the decisions surrounding the often murky restructuring of the former Agrokor.

The race for the new head of Podravka is starting, here are the main candidates

The appointment will last for one year, for the duration of the term of office of the existing members of Podravka's Management Board, and a confirmation of the full five-year term should follow in February 2022. After the tragic and premature death of Marin Pucar following a battle with an illness, the fund industry proposed their financier Davor Dok as a ''natural'' successor, the local authorities had their favourites, but according to sources, it seems Martina Dalic is set to take Podravka's proverbial throne.

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Sunday, 24 March 2019

Ivica Todorić: I've Not Been Destroyed, I'm Happier Than Ever

As tportal writes on the 24th of March, 2019, in just a few day's time, it will have been a full two years since the adoption of Lex Agrokor. Four and a half months since his extradition to Croatia after a year of fighting his corner in London, there are still no actual indictments against Ivica Todorić and his managers in the former Agrokor system. After having announced his desire to enter into politics, followed by a brief yet rather deafening silence, N1's guest was no less than the former owner of Agrokor, Ivica Todorić himself.

Asked to comment on the notion that he symbolised absolute power two years ago, built and owned the most successful company in the Balkans, and today he's a destroyed businessman awaiting his indictment, the ever smiling Ivica Todorić said he was in exactly the same form and acts very much in the same way as he did two, three, or four years ago.

''I'm doing more than I've been doing for the past forty years and I'm going to be honest, maybe I'm even happier today, a happier man than I used to be,'' a grinning Ivica Todorić told N1, saying that he was fighting for another thing now, and that is a fight against Croatia's corrupt system. He said that he was far from destroyed, quite the contrary.

For the last two years, the state has been preparing a trial against you, claiming that you committed crimes within Agrokor...

''I don't bother having anything to do with that, some accusations against me, what they're saying, and what they've tried to imply, it will be one serious legal document of this shameful Croatian state ... After thirty years, I left my company. In the last thirty years, everything remained within the company, all my mails, SMS's, accounts, all my transactions, all my contracts, everything remained within the company! Why not show us just one receipt?! What they did in Agrokor in a year, what crimes they were committing...'' questions Agrokor's former top dog.

Although DORH argues that the value of the company fell due to debts, Ivica Todorić claims that he has full evidence of the value of the company.

''What they made out of Agrokor today, I can't get 2.5 billion for the whole group. What destruction they've caused. When you talk about DORH and the process against me... Unbelievable. They claim I took some money. They know where the money went, where the accounts are. I took about 470 million euros in personal debt and gave it all to Agrokor. Agrokor was indebted to me, not me to Agrokor! And sure, it's like I've taken something...'' said Agrokor's ex boss.

He also said that Božo Petrov lured him to a meeting and he arrived like something out of the mafia in the night. "That was a weird meeting, I did't understand anything," Ivica Todorić said.

When asked if he was looking for money from the Croatian Government for Agrokor, he said: ''What do you mean? What money? Agrokor wasn't in trouble. It was only important for them that I came to be able to say that I came, so they could say that I was looking for something,''

He also said that none of the suppliers who worked with Agrokor had suffered any damage, but that was why he acted in the manner he did towards CNB/HNB's governer Boris Vujčić, about whom he had few nice words to say.

"He absolutely ruined me, he'd talked to some vulturous funds, gave them preferential information. You'll see what will still be done, what will be found out. That Vujčić has dragged Croatia to the bottom of the bottom. He put me, Agrokor, a thousand of our suppliers in position in which we had to pay more interest,'' said Ivica Todorić.

He also commented on the possible return of Antonio Alvarez III (Yes, that's really his name), who was among the very first to appear on Agrokor's then crumbling stage just after the passing of Lex Agrokor, allowing the government to intervene in the enfeebled company's affairs.

"This about them calling Mr. Alvarez and what they're doing, you can see that they're just lost, they don't know what they're doing, they don't know where they're going," he remarked.

Ivica Todorić believes that the Fortenova Group, which will soon be the ''new'' Agrokor, won't actually exist for years, nor will it be anything compared with Agrokor's entire business. He also believes that DORH is working to protect Andrej Plenković.

Make sure to follow our dedicated lifestyle, business and politics pages for more info on Ivica Todorić's entry onto the Croatian political scene and much more.

Saturday, 8 December 2018

Will Croatian Finance Minister Zdravko Marić Leave Government?

Neither Prime Minister Plenković nor Zdravko Marić himself have come out and actually denied the rumours about the Croatian finance minister's potential departure from the government.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes on the 8th of December, 2018, although no one has officially confirmed this, some claim that a quick analysis of the statements made by both Prime Minister Plenković and Zdravko Marić himself suggest that it is apparently ''almost certain'' that the longtime Croatian finance minister is set to leave his government position.

This information has begun circulating at a very inconvenient time and amid quite a bit of controversy, given the fact that Zdravko Marić's older sister has been promoted in HANFA, which is ironically the organisation investigating the finance minister for his activities during the height of Agrokor saga, which still isn't over. Good timing you say? You're right.

To quickly recall, this isn't the first time the Croatian finance minister has fallen out of favour in such a public manner. Marić used to work at Agrokor before taking on his government position, and as more and more came to light in regard to Agrokor's messy story, many began to suspect that he knew much more than he was letting on about the crimes which allegedly took place under the gigantic company's former owner, Ivica Todorić.

Despite having held strong to his statement of innocence and managing to survive this political test, ultimately retaining his position, the cloud of suspicion surrounding him never truly went away, it only engulfed Martina Dalić instead, the fomer deputy PM, who became a welcome distraction for the minister tormented by his past.

Regardless of the passage of time and the stepping down of Martina Dalić, the curse of the former Agrokor crisis has come knocking at Croatian finance minister's door once again, and this time it looks like he won't be getting off quite as lightly.

Upon being asked, Prime Minister Plenković's response has been scrutinised deeply, and for some it could be concluded that the Croatian finance minister's time is up, purely and simply because the he did not deny it when asked, writes Večernji list.

Similarly, Marić didn't deny it himself, either. The question now is not only who would potentially replace Marić in the government, but whether or not this could potentially be a chance for the reconstruction of the current government.

While unconfirmed, speculation suggests that Marić's departure from the government will take place next month, which would in itself be logical because he has already compiled a budget for next year.

The exact name of the person who either may or definitely replace Marić is still unknown, primarily because this information remains officially unconfirmed. But those speculating have suggested that it could be Tomislav Ćorić, the curent minister of energy and environmental protection, but sources close to the government claim that if he is doing his job well and that such a move would make no real sense. It would also be his third new ministry if it were to occur. So, it seems difficult to imagine Corić taking over Marić's job.

The speculation of potential names continues, despite the fact that the rumours of the current Croatian finance minister leaving his position early next year remain unconfirmed. 

Make sure to stay up to date on this situation and much more on the domestic and European political stage by following our dedicated politics page.

Tuesday, 4 December 2018

Officials Found to Have Violated Public Office Principles in Agrokor Affair

ZAGREB, Dec 4, 2018 - The Conflict of Interest Commission decided on Monday that former Deputy Prime Minister and Economy Minister Martina Dalić and Finance Minister Zdravko Marić had violated the principle of holding public office in the case of the indebted Agrokor food and retail conglomerate. The violation does not carry any penalties.

The Commission found that Dalić had violated the Conflict of Interest Prevention Act because, despite the great public interest, she did not give the names of members of the informal working group assembled by the government in dealing with the crisis in the company. In that way she failed to act transparently, Commission chair Nataša Novaković said.

Dalić recommended Ante Ramljak as crisis manager for the company although she was aware that he was a member of the informal group assembled to draft a bill on Agrokor, which was deemed failure on her part to act credibly and responsibly, the Commission said.

Marić was found to have violated the Conflict of Interest Prevention Act because at a meeting at which it was decided who the crisis manager for Agrokor would be, he failed to protect his own credibility and impartiality in holding public office, given that he had previously worked at Agrokor.

The Commission had renewed proceedings against Dalić and Marić after Dalić's deposition to the USKOK anti-corruption office had leaked to the public, showing that Marić attended more meetings regarding Agrokor than he had admitted.

For more on the Agrokor case, click here.

Thursday, 8 November 2018

Martina Dalić Comments on Ivica Todorić's Extradition

People often say that less is more, and that can apply to words, too. Former Economy Minister Martina Dalić, once one of the most powerful women in Croatia, was short and not so sweet in her comments about Ivica Todorić's extradition from London to Croatia to face trial for his alleged crimes in Agrokor.

Martina Dalić is a controversial character who was heavily involved in the entire Agrokor saga from start to finish. Close to Agrokor's extraordinary administration proceedings from the beginning, the former Deputy Prime Minister has been shrouded in suspicion for a while, particularly since the discovery of her having used a simple Hotmail email account to discuss extremely sensitive matters with other involved individuals, known as the Hotmail Affair, which saw her leave her position at Prime Minister Andrej Plenković's side.

One thing that stands out when it comes to Dalić is Todorić's previous insisting, via his now somewhat infamous blog, that she had been sending him and his family members threatening emails and messages, in an apparent attempt, in his words, to blackmail him into singing Lex Agrokor, a law which in itself, despite having allowed the government to intervene and rescue Agrokor as a company, boasts more question marks than it does clear answers.

Of course, people ignored Todorić's often rather bizarre allegations which he had a tendency to fire at all and sundry across the political scene in Croatia, claiming Plenković had given him chocolates at midnight was one of the stranger statements. When the Hotmail Affair raised its ugly head, however, people recalled what Todorić had written about all those months ago online, and although she allowed DORH to investigate all of the electronic devices she uses for communication, a move though which she proved her innocence at least in this matter, nobody was laughing anymore and the seeds of doubt about Martina Dalić were planted in the minds of many.

Ivica Todorić was finally extradited to Croatia last night following the British decision to reject his appeals and push forward with his removal from the United Kingdom, where he'd been living for the past year under the watchful eye of the British authorities after handing himself in to the metropolitan police and paying a hefty bail fee. Todorić spent the night in Remetinec prison in Zagreb, and you can read more about what happened last night here.

Martina Dalić was of course asked for her thoughts and opinions on Todorić's extradition to Croatia, and she was in no real rush to provide a response. In fact her lack of desire to even discuss the matter was surprising given her level of involvement in the Agrokor case. With the ex Agrokor boss' extradition happening so soon after the publishing and promotion of her brand new book on the matter, a book which has also been met with appreciation and disgust across the board, one would assume she'd have quite a bit to say.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes on the 8th of November, 2018, insistant journalists urged her to comment on the extradition of Ivica Todorić to Croatia, and Dalić was very short.

Her obvious lack of desire caused journalists to insist on her providing a response to the extradition from London, about which she was extremely short and blunt:

"That's not something I'd be interested in," she said.

As Novi List reports, Martina Dalić is currently in Opatija where she is part of a panel entitled "Economic Reforms: A solution or a problem?". Agrokor's current extraordinary commissioner, Fabris Peruško, is also participating in the event.

Want to keep up with more news about Todorić's case now he's back in Croatia? Make sure to stay up to date with our news page.

Tuesday, 30 October 2018

Opposition Slams Government for Agrokor Book Launch Spectacle

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.

Tuesday, 30 October 2018

Zdravko Maric Unenthusiastic About Martina Dalic's Agrokor Book

In case you didn't know, Martina Dalic, the former deputy prime minister who spent a long time at Andrej Plenkovic's side, left her position earlier this year amid not only the Hotmail affair, in which she was sending highly sensitive emails via no less than Hotmail, but amid growing suspicion surrounding her in regard to the very messy Agrokor affair.

Now, despite the public's general opinion of her being less than sparkling and with all sorts of unsavoury suspicions and accusations about her involvement in Agrokor still flying around, left unanswered, Martina Dalic went ahead and published a book on Agrokor, causing raised eyebrows among many politicians, including MOST's leader Bozo Petrov, who was heavily involved in the Agrokor situation when it first came to light, especially given the fact that the crisis saw the former HDZ-MOST coalition collapse.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Tomislav Pili writes on the 30th of October, 2018, Finance Minister Zdravko Maric, who felt the very personal unpleasantness of the Agrokor crisis on his own skin, stated quite bluntly that he didn't have any desire to comment on whether or not Martina Dalic should return to the government at all.

Marić used to work for Agrokor before taking up his position within the Croatian Government, this caused a lot of suspicion around him, too, as many across the political spectrum and in the general public failed to believe that he had no knowledge of the plethora of underhand deals and the threatening collapse of the company that eventually raised its ugly head in the spring of 2017. Despite the controversy, Maric stuck to his guns and held onto his position, with the situation eventually blowing over. Despite that, it doesn't come as much of a surprise that he'd prefer to avoid discussing Martina Dalic or her new book.

"I've got a good relationship with all the people I've worked with and am working with now, and if we have some disagreement, then we find a common language," the finance minister said briefly.

''I haven't read Martina Dalic's book and I don't know if I'll manage to,'' Maric added at the margins of Poslovni Dnevnik's conference. In response to a journalist's question as to whether everything worked well in regard to Agrokor's extraordinary administration, and why Martina Dalic had to leave, Maric expressed his lack of desire to comment on whether or not she should return to the government.

As for the dangers the Uljanik shipyard situation represents towards public debt, Maric said Uljanik's influence will of course have an effect on the overall fiscal policy outcome for this year.

"The only good thing about it is that it will have a one-off effect. From our side, we intend to solve [the situation] as soon as possible so as to avoid any further consequences. Nevertheless, by the end of the year, according to our projections and expectations, public debt will continue to decline,'' Maric emphasised.

"With regard to taking further steps, we can't influence the worsening global environment that much, but do we have certain mechanisms in our hands. I, as finance minister, am responsible for implementing fiscal policy. All we propose is a responsible, rational fiscal policy that suits all of the challenges we're facing. We're putting emphasis on a more stable public debt, but the basic idea of us all should be ​​economic growth, which will lead to stronger employment growth,'' Maric noted.

Journalists present at the conference in were also very interested in the disappearance of the so-called "mantra" about budget savings which has been being talking about a lot over recent years.

"I wouldn't say that is stopped. If you look at the structure of the expenditure side of the budget, the biggest item is the retirement expenditure. It's true that the issue of expenditure has been challenged more than once and we must not give up on that. We reduced interest costs by over two billion kuna, but we're still paying too much,'' Maric said.

Regarding retirement, the question of whether or not retirement benefits in the new Law on Croatian Defenders represent a budgetary burden arose, to which Maric responded that his ministry had looked into potential financial implications during the process of the adoption of the naw Law on Croatian Defenders.

"The Law on Croatian Defenders is fiscally viable and isn't an additional burden for the budget," Maric concluded.

Want to find out more about what exactly happened within Agrokor and learn more about Martina Dalic's role within it all? Click here and follow the news on Dalić, the Hotmail affair, the writing of Lex Agrokor, and more.

 

Click here for the original article by Tomislav Pili for Poslovni Dnevnik

Monday, 29 October 2018

Former Economy Minister Publishes Book on Agrokor Affair

ZAGREB, October 29, 2018 - Former economy minister Martina Dalić said on Monday there had been no intention of conspiracy or corruption in dealing with the crisis in the ailing Agrokor conglomerate. She was speaking at the launch of her book "Agrokor: The Collapse of Crony Capitalism".

Attending the launch were many politicians, including Prime Minister Andrej Plenković and several ministers, as well as business people, unionists and lawyers who participated in the preparation of a law dubbed Lex Agrokor.

Dalić said she wrote the book to explain what was happening when the government was faced with the crisis that broke out in the private food and retail conglomerate. "There were numerous lies in the public sphere by those who wanted the emergency administration process in Agrokor to fail."

The government would not lend Agrokor 300 million euro, she said, adding that there had been no Borg group, conspirators or corruption in the government. Borg was the nickname of an informal group of experts working on the law on extraordinary administration in companies of systemic importance, dubbed Lex Agrokor.

Workers did not protest outside the government, and the government did not provide collateral at taxpayers' expense, said Dalić. "I resigned over events that never happened. There was no secret group, but the government's stability was shaken because of emails that appeared in the public sphere. Although it was a set-up, the prime minister and I agreed that I should resign, although I'm not guilty of what I'm being accused of," she said.

The growing prospects of the success of the emergency administration triggered off more and more rumours and fabrications as well as lies spread in the public by those who wanted the administration to fail, she said, reiterating that no secret group had ever existed,

By refusing to give a loan of 300 million euro to Agrokor founder and owner Ivica Todorić, the government showed that there were no entrepreneurs who were given preferential treatment, and therefore this book is entitled "Agrokor: The Collapse of Crony Capitalism", she said.

As for controversies surrounding the process of salvaging Agrokor, Dalić cited the case of the Alix Partners consulting company that hired as subcontractors three companies whose owners or co-owners had participated in a task force that the government consulted during the outbreak of the crisis. Hiring those subcontractors caused harm to the credibility of the emergency administration process and raised moral and ethical questions which had not cropped up before, she said.

I am personally sure that during the whole process there were a lot of ambiguities and errors and things which both emergency administrators would do differently now if they started this process anew. But decisions are made in real time, and those decisions were adopted in extreme circumstances, particularly at the very start of the process, she said.

HNB Governor: Central bank started dealing with Agrokor issue in 2012

Addressing the event, Croatian National Bank (HNB) Governor Boris Vujčić said that the HNB was the first to actively address the issue, already in 2012, and that in the end the whole Agrokor problem was solved with a settlement deal which was upheld this past Friday by the High Commercial Court.

In 2012, the HNB noticed that local banks were exposed to Agrokor to a level that exceeded the legislative frameworks.

He also warned that the amount of Agrokor's debt accounted for 7% of the national GDP, which was seven times more than in the case of the Italian Parmalat.

The real threat for the state budget would have been if banks had fallen victim to the Agrokor crisis due to excessive exposure, and in 2012 the HNB issued an injunction, demanding that 16 banks reduce their exposure to Agrokor, the governor recalled.

Ramljak: There was no Borg group

The former emergency administrator in Agrokor, Ante Ramljak, told reporters before the launch he read the parts of the book that were about him. "I think everyone involved in the most complex economic problem which happened in Croatia at that time can be proud of what they did and we can all be glad that there has been no major damage," he said in response to questions from the press.

Prime Minister Plenković was the first person who had to take care of the problem, Ramljak said, adding that questions about what happened later and why Dalić had to resign as economy minister should be addressed to her.

He would not answer questions about the Borg group and leaked emails, saying only that there had been no such group. I think those are fabrications, said Ramljak. He added, however, that he did send one email mentioning the group on Easter 2017 when he realised that they had rescued Agrokor with one financial injection. "I sent that email and the Borg group is mentioned only in that email."

He would not say what he thought of the president's and the prime minister's earlier calls that the consultants hired for Agrokor return their fees.

Ramljak became Agrokor's emergency administrator after the adoption of Lex Agrokor, which aimed to protect the sustainability of business operations of vital companies. The law was adopted on 6 April 2017. Of 131 lawmakers attending that session, 83 voted in favour, 46 were against and two abstained. He took over management on 10 April and was emergency administrator until late February 2018.

Škegro: The bulk of the media created scandals out of nothing

Former Finance Minister Borislav Škegro, answering reporters' questions before the launch, called out the bulk of the media for "creating scandals out of nothing, out of non-existent facts and lies." He said Dalić resigned as economy minister when she saw that her staying in office might endanger the ultimate goal, reaching a successful settlement for Agrokor. He said Agrokor creditors "fared much better" with the settlement that was eventually reached "than they would have in any alternative scenario."

Škegro said Dalić's book showed that Lex Agrokor had between 40 and 50 authors, including members of the MOST party, which was part of the ruling coalition at that time, and MPs. "What's important is that there were no scandals, no groups, no criminal organisation, no plan to steal," he said, adding that "nobody in their right mind would steal debts worth billions."

For more articles about the Agrokor affair which almost brought down the government and the economy, click here.

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