As Croatia prepares to renegotiate with MOL, investigation into former CEO reopened

Issues

The Croatian government is currently planning its upcoming negotiations with Hungary-based oil and gas group MOL with regard to restructuring the shareholders agreement of INA, MOL’s Croatian wing; MOL currently holds a stake of about 49%, while the Croatian government’s share is just under 45%. 

But while numbers are crunched and tactics debated, anti-corruption law enforcement is demanding action and have reopened an investigation into former MOL chairman/CEO Zsolt Hernádi vis-à-vis his role in a €5 million bribery case. Former Croatian prime minister Ivo Sanader was found guilty of accepting a bribe from MOL in exchange for full management rights in the November 2008 court decision.

The Croatian State Attorney’s office alleges that Hungary has refused to question Hernádi in regard to the case, with the Hungarian government claiming reasons of national interests. With the entrance of Croatia into the European Union, however, the case against Hernádi was permissible to be reopened.

In a statement, state attorney representatives wrote that “Conditions have been created to secure the suspect’s presence considering the regulations about judicial cooperation between EU members, and we have forwarded a request to Hungarian authorities to help hand over a summons for the suspect’s first interrogation.

“Depending on the reply from Hungary, we will decide on further actions about possibly issuing a European arrest warrant.”

Speaking to local media today, Croatian finance minister Slavko Linic tried to keep his eyes on the prize. He was quoted in Index.hr as referring to the Sanader case in explaining that “The hardest part of the negotiation will always be about the natural gas business, which has inflicted enormous damage…”

When asked about the possibility of an arrest warrant for Hernádi, Linic deferred, saying “That’s the job of the attorney general [and] the justice department.”

As of noon on Thursday, Reuters was reporting that no request for the questioning of Hernádi had been received at the Hungarian prosecutor’s office.

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