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Report: MOL planning €264 million lawsuit against Croatia

Issues

In the ongoing tussle between MOL and the Croatian government over majority ownership of Croatia-based INA, Hungary’s oil-and-gas giant has just raised the stakes, threatening to sue for HRK 2 billion (€264 million/HUF 79.4 billion) for alleged breach of contract.

According to Croatia-based daily newspaper Jutarnji List, MOL has informed the Croatian government of the potential lawsuit by formal letter; the breach of contract charge stems from Croatia’s failure to assume financial control of the gas segment of INA operations, a changeover promised at a shareholders meeting in 2009.

Via unnamed source/sources, the ‘paper also reported that MOL has already hired a US-based law firm to handle legal proceedings, and that INA CEO Zoltán Áldott also met with US-based attorneys last week.

A report from news service MTI could not confirm this most recent missive from MOL, but company representatives did inform of a letter sent in July that “stressed its commitment to cooperation with the [Croatian] government.”

The conflict between MOL and the Croatian government may be traced back to a 2008 bribery case in which former Prime Minister Ivo Sanader was found guilty of accepting a €5 million payoff from MOL. With the country’s entry into the European Union in July, Croatian law enforcement body USKOK reopened a case concerning then-MOL chairman/CEO Zsolt Hernádi’s involvement in the Sanader bribe.

MOL currently holds a stake of about 49% in the company, while the Croatian government’s share is just under 45%. Formal negotiations on INA are slated to begin on September 18.

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