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Bribery caused disagreement not allayed

MOL Nyrt. chairman Zsolt Hernádi was cleared of bribery charges in the acquisition of Zagreb-based refiner INA Industrija Nafte d.d. Charges involved fraud and bribery.

Judge Levente Nyilas of the Budapest Metropolitan Court, after taking into consideration Croatian evidence, reached verdict and announced that Hernádi was not found guilty having been accused with the above mentioned charges.

A former MOL employee alleging that Hernádi’s company had bribed former Croatian premier Ivo Sanader, filed a lawsuit. Stated bribery happened in order to gain control over INA’s management rights in 2009 without informing MOL investors, thus causing losses.

Sanader, convicted of allegedly helping MOL buy INA’s management rights, is serving his 10-year prison sentence. He has appealed to the Croatian Supreme Court and the case is now pending.

Hernádi defending himself said the charges “are almost a word-for-word match” of the Croatian allegations. The chairman refusing to appear before a Croatian court is insisting on his innocence citing a previous trial that found no evidence of his malpractice.

Fights between Croatian government, owning 44.8% of INA shares, and MOL, holding 49.1%, have been going on for three consecutive years. INA claims to be hurt by MOL’s management, while the Hungarian company keeps denying accusations.

Due to the Croatian government seeking to regain control, MOL has considered the sale of INA. Negotiations between the two parties keep failing.