Bloomberg News

Croatian Judge Rejects Mol’s Hernadi as Witness for Sanader

November 17, 2011

Nov. 17 (Bloomberg) -- Zsolt Hernadi, Chairman of Hungary’s largest refiner Mol Nyrt., cannot be a witness for the defense team of former Croatian Premier Ivo Sanader, as he is already under investigation in the same bribery case.

Judge Ivan Turudic told the district court in Zagreb today that because Hernadi is being investigated as a suspect in the bribery trial involving Mol and Croatian refiner INA Industrija Nafte d.d., “he cannot at the same time be a witness for the defense team.”

Sanader is accused of taking a bribe of 10 million euros ($13.5 million) from Mol between 2008 and 2009, when he was premier. In exchange, he arranged with Hernadi to give Mol controlling rights over INA in a January 2009 shareholding agreement. Sanader and Mol have denied the accusations.

Prosecutor Tamara Laptos said Hernadi arranged the illegal payment from two companies in Cyprus, and that the money arrived at the Swiss bank account of Xenoplast & Shipping AG, that belongs to Croatian businessman and former Sanader’s ally, Robert Jezic.

“We will prove through testimonies of witnesses that Zsolt Tamas Hernadi participated in organizing the payment” to Sanader, Laptos, deputy head of Office for Suppression of Corruption and Organized Crime, told the court.

Judge Turudic accepted Jezic is one of the witnesses for the prosecution team, along with former Deputy Prime Minister Damir Polancec and former Finance Minister Ivan Suker.

Sanader’s trial for corruption and abuse of office began last week, after the district court on Nov. 8 decided to merge two corruption probes into one. The second case involves Austria’s Hypo Alpe-Adria-Bank International AG.

Sanader is accused of taking a bribe of 3.6 million kuna ($650,000) from the Austrian bank between 1994 to 1995, when he was deputy foreign minister. In exchange, the Croatian government at the time took a loan of 140 million Austrian schillings ($14 million), the Alpine nation’s currency at the time, from Hypo bank, the Prosecutor General said on Aug. 31.

--Editor: Zoe Schneeweiss

To contact the reporter on this story: Jasmina Kuzmanovic in Zagreb at jkuzmanovic@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: James M. Gomez at jagomez@bloomberg.net


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