Bloomberg News

Croatia Reiterates Plea to Hungary to Interrogate Mol Chief

December 20, 2011

(Updates with Mol’s comments in sixth paragraph.)

Dec. 20 (Bloomberg) -- Mol Nyrt. Chairman Zsolt Hernadi must be interrogated by either Hungarian or Croatian prosecutors over his alleged role in the corruption trial of former Croatian Premier Ivo Sanader, Croatia’s Prosecutor General said in a statement on its website.

A request by the Croatian Office for Suppression of Corruption and Organized Crime for help by Hungarian public prosecutors in July was denied, claiming the protection of Hungary’s national interests, the office said.

Croatia “is still conducting an investigation against Zsolt Hernadi and has asked Hungarian judicial authorities earlier this month to arrange his interrogation as a prerequisite for concluding the investigation,” it said today.

Sanader is standing trial in Zagreb for taking a bribe of 10 million euros ($13.6 million) from the Hungarian oil company between 2008 to 2009, when he was premier. In exchange, he allegedly arranged with Hernadi to give it controlling rights over Croatian refiner INA Industrija Nafte d.d. in a January 2009 shareholding agreement. Mol and Sanader have denied the accusations.

The investigation against Hernadi can be concluded “either if Hungary fulfills the Croatian plea for interrogation, or if Hungarian authorities interrogate Hernadi and deliver his testimony” to Croatia, the prosecutor’s office said.

Reiterating Hernadi’s innocence, Mol today said Hernadi gave a statement to Hungarian authorities as a witness in the case, company spokesman Domokos Szollar said today in an e- mailed statement.

During Sanader’s trial, a video recording that allegedly showed Sanader exchanging a written message with Hernadi was played in court on Nov. 18. The four-minute clip from their lunch in October 2009 in a Zagreb restaurant, captured on the surveillance camera, was admitted as evidence for the prosecution.

--Editors: Douglas Lytle, James M. Gomez

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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