Ex-minister Vojkovic released from custody, EPPO publishes details of the investigation

NEWS 01.03.202416:37 0 komentara
Slavko Midzor/PIXSELL

The former Minister of Economy and director of the insurance company Croatia Osiguranje, Hrvoje Vojkovic, was released from custody on Thursday evening after being questioned by the European Public Prosecutor’s Office in Zagreb on suspicion of subsidy fraud totalling €400,000. Pročitaj više

Vojkovic was released because the EPPO had not requested pre-trial detention, as Vojkovic had admitted everything he was accused of during questioning.

Earlier, the EPPO in Zagreb had announced that it was gathering evidence in cooperation with the Istria County Police against two people arrested for subsidy fraud in agriculture and forgery of documents, including Vojkovic.

Unofficially, he was arrested for receiving subsidies for planting tulips that he never planted. The alleged misconduct took place from 2020 to 2022.

The other suspect is a former banker and consultant from Varazdin.

Vojkovic, a former member of the Croatian Social Liberal Party (HSLS), was dismissed as managing director of Croatia Osiguranje after the media reported on his alleged illegal construction of a holiday home with a pool in 2010. In 2011, he was indicted for this illegal construction within the protected Zumberak Nature Park.

Agency suspected fraud and did not pay subsidies to Vojkovic

The European Public Prosecutor’s Office in Zagreb said on Friday that the Croatian Paying Agency for Agriculture, Fisheries and Rural Development did not pay almost €370,000 in non-repayable subsidies to former minister Hrvoje Vojkovic because it suspected fraud.

The EPPO suspects that Vojkovic, as the owner of a company, submitted three applications to the Croatian Paying Agency for Agriculture, Fisheries and Rural Development between April 2020 and the end of December 2022 in order to receive non-repayable financial support for several projects, including investments in the equipment of tourist facilities, the planting of an olive grove and the construction of a greenhouse for vegetables.

All three projects, with a total value of almost €650,000, for which grants totalling almost €370,000 were requested, were co-financed 85% by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD) and 15% by the Croatian state budget.

The Police Directorate said Vojkovic had applied three times for grants totalling €368,551.

Illegally acquired certificates are suspected

The EPPO explained that Vojkovic’s company had to fulfil the prescribed tender conditions when submitting the grant applications, including the appropriate economic size of the company.

According to the evidence, in order to obtain a certificate of the required economic size, Vojkovic falsely claimed on three occasions to an official of the Ministry of Agriculture that he was growing tulips on the land owned by his company.

Tulips, which belong to the category of flowers and ornamental plants, have sufficient economic value as required in the agency’s tenders, the EPPO said.

It is also suspected that during the administrative procedure of the submitted applications, Vojkovic attached the illegally obtained certificates – which he had prepared together with the other suspect – to the three grant applications and falsely claimed that the company met the requirements for the tender.

“However, during the administrative procedure, the agency became suspicious of fraud and decided not to pay the non-repayable grants to the suspect,” the EPPO said.

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