Croatia: Anti-Corruption Authorities Indict Hungarian CEO for Bribery

Published: 02 April 2014


Former Prime Minister of Croatia, Ivo Sanader


Croatia’s agency to fight corruption and organized crime, USKOK, has charged Zsolt Hernádi, the chief executive of the Hungarian oil company MOL, with bribery.

The indictment, which was handed up on Sunday, says that the CEO paid former Croatian Prime Minister Ivo Sanader more than US$ 13 million in bribes from 2008-2009 so MOL could gain control of INA, Croatia’s oil and gas firm.

The Hungarian company says the charges are politically motivated, reports the Wall Street Journal, and says it isn’t “aware of any [formal] criminal charges.”

 The company has acknowledged press reports around the case, however, and said that Hernádi has proved his innocence to the MOL board's "full satisfaction.”

Relations between Croatia and MOL “have been strained for several years and they are now engaged in talks,” says Reuters.

According to Reuters, MOL said it was ready to sell its stake in INA if no deal could be reached.  The Hungarian firm is the largest stakeholder in INA, owning almost 50 percent of shares. The Croatian government has close to a 45 percent stake.

Sanader has already been found guilty of accepting the bribes while in office. In 2012, Croatian courts sentenced him to 10 years in prison.

Last month Sanader was sentenced to nine years in jail in an unrelated case for siphoning more than US$ 12 million of state money for his political party, HDZ. 

He is the highest-ranking former official ever tried in Croatia, which joined the European Union in July.