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MOL chairman says 'no conflict with the Croatian govt'

Hungarian oil and gas group MOL CEO told hvg.hu in an interview published on Friday that charges that he bribed former Prime Minister Ivo Sanader of Croatia in order to gain MOL's management over Croatian peer INA were "despicable" and void of any factual grounds.

"These charges are despicable; they lack concrete facts and refer to unnamed sources. Neither the Croatian nor the Hungarian press, which has taken information from the former without verification, have yet to publish documents [related to the charge]," Hernádi told the website of the weekly HVG.

"We know that there is an election campaign in Croatia. At the same time, significant changes took place at INA over the past two years in which some came out on losers. Events over recent weeks are to be analyzed within this framework," Hernádi added.

On July 14, Hungary's Attorney General denied a request from Croatia's public prosecutor to provide legal assistance with regard to its investigation of Hernádi’s alleged bribery of Sanader. The Croatian daily Vesernji list reported in June that an investigation of Sanader on corruption charges had uncovered evidence of the bribes.

MOL stated following the press report that "no payment or agreement on any payment was ever made, directly or indirectly, neither in the course of INA's privatization nor thereafter to any actor or decision-maker on the Croatian political scene."

Hernádi stressed in the Friday interview with hvg.hu that "MOL has no conflict with the Croatian government."

MOL currently holds a 47.46% of INA, while the Croatian government owns a 44.84% stake in the company.

When asked if a share swap between MOL and INA might resolve the current conflict, Hernádi said that "anything is conceivable. But this would not signify the end of the story, but the beginning of a new chapter."