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News 07 Nov 17

Croatian Agrokor Owner Turns Himself in to London Police

Ivica Todoric, founder and owner of ailing Croatian company Agrokor, turned himself into police in London and was promptly arrested, according to a European arrest warrant issued against him.

Sven Milekic
BIRN
Zagreb
Ivica Todoric. Photo: Beta

The Croatian Interior Ministry confirmed Tuesday that police had received information that Ivica Todoric, owner and founder of Croatian giant Agrokor, turned himself in to London police on Tuesday morning.

Todoric went to Charing Cross police station, according to a European arrest warrant issued by Croatia. He had been under investigation for alleged criminal business activities, as well as forging financial records and the misuse of trust.

Todoric was interrogated before Westminster Magistrates Court, and released later on bail for 100,000 pounds. He has surrendered his travel documents, must wear an electronic tag between midnight and 3am, and report to police in Kensington, west London, three times a week. The Court has set an extradition hearing for next April.

According to reports from regional media hub N1, Todoric’s lawyers will contest the extradition, alleging that he is a victim of politically motivated persecution.

The state attorney's office in Zagreb first issued the European arrest warrant on October 23, later triggering a subsequent Interpol warrant, after the first arrests of former Agrokor officials began in mid-October, following revelations of major financial irregularities in the company’s financial records. Ivica Todoric had not been present in Croatia at the time.

Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic said on Tuesday that he received information about the arrest while visiting a book fair today, adding that “regular procedure” will ensue and that Todoric has all rights as a defendant.

On Tuesday, the weekly Croatian news magazine Nacional first broke the news that the Croatian authorities had information that Todoric was located in London – a matter of intense media speculation in recent weeks. It added that it will likely be up to British authorities to decide upon his extradition to Croatia.

Country’s biggest private company Agrokor found itself in financial trouble from the beginning of the year. Due to company’s size and revenues, the Croatian parliament passed the Law on Procedures for Extraordinary Management in Companies of Systematic Significance in April.

According to the Law, the company was put under 15-month state management, which will restructure the company in a way to cover the debts and sell-off parts of the Agrokor Group.

Although willingly giving his company to state management the day after the Law came to power, Todoric later claimed that he was pressured to do so and that he is a victim of politically motivated persecution.

The company's role in the economy of Croatia is massive, with revenues of 6.5 billion euros in 2015 – almost 16 per cent of Croatia's total GDP – and around 40,000 employees.

Agrokor employs another 20,000 people in neighbouring Bosnia and Serbia, while it is believed that suppliers and companies for the Slovenian retailer Mercator – which Agrokor bought in 2014 – employ around 70,000 people in Slovenia as well.

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