News 21 Jun 11

Sanader Suspected of 10-Million Oil Bribe

Croatian investigators suspect former prime minister of taking 10 million euros from the Hungarian company MOL in return for ensuring MOL's dominance in the Croatian oil company, INA.

Croatian Times, Balkan Insight
Ivo Sanader
Ivo Sanader | Fonet Archive

The Croatian daily Vecernji List said the Austrian Ministry of Justice had received a request from Croatia naming Ivo Sanader as recipient of a bribe, MOL’s head, Zsolt Hernadi, as the issuer, and Croatia's former deputy prime minister, Damir Polancec, as an assistant in the criminal act.

During 2008 and 2009, Sanader, then prime minister, and the president of MOL, Hernadi, had agreed to change the agreement between the Croatian government and MOL to allow the Hungarian company a dominant role over INA’s business. Sanader allegedly stood to get 10 million euros in return.

Investigators say it was arranged that the Croatian government would manage the non-profitable gas business, while MOL would handle the profitable part of operations.

Sanader was arrested on December 10 near Salzburg in Austria based on a warrant Croatia had issued for him. Since then he has been in custody in the Austrian city awaiting extradition. He is charged with abuse of power and embezzlement.

The cases being investigated include: his role in the case of the Fimi media agency, through which ministers and public enterprises got several million euros; illegal operations of Croatian electricity company withthe Dioki  petrochemical plant; taking a commission of 3.5 million kuna (about €500,000) during negotiations with the Hypo Bank on granting credit to Croatia.

An investigation against Sanader on suspicion of money laundering in a Tyrolean bank is ongoing in Austria.

On Monday, Sanader retracted his appeal against an Austrian court’s decision to extradite him to Croatia, where he is wanted on suspicion for abuse of power and embezzlement. The extradition is expected in two or three weeks.

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