Expert testimony in “Grand Agrokor” scam case declared inadmissible

NEWS 29.03.202317:23

A Zagreb County Court indictment panel decided on Wednesday that the financial expert report prepared by Ismet Kamal, which is the basis of an indictment for the siphoning of 1.2 billion kuna from the Agrokor company in the "Grand Agrokor" scam, is inadmissible evidence, the court has said.

Attorney Anto Nobilo, who is defending a former director at Agrokor, Piruska Canjuga, said that today’s decision declared Kamal’s expert testimony inadmissible and that it would be removed from the case file.

Nobilo specified that the main reason for this was that Kamal’s role in making the expert report was minor, while the majority of the work was done by KPMG Croatia employees, who worked for the extraordinary administration in Agrokor and were paid for it.

Dissatisfied party has right of appeal to High Criminal Court

“An expert must be neutral and unbiased,” said Nobilo.

Before the indictment panel’s decision, Agrokor’s former owner, Ivica Todoric, who is the first accused in this case, addressed reporters and said that he expects to win “whatever the decision may be,” as well as that he has filed criminal charges against Chief State Attorney Zlata Hrvoj-Sipek and prosecutor Sani Ljubicic.

“They shelved the case but more and more information is coming to light,” said Todoric.

The dissatisfied party now has the right to appeal with the High Criminal Court, which has already accepted appeals from the defence and returned the expert testimony to the Zagreb County Court.

In February and March, Kamal was questioned before the indictment panel as a witness, and not as an expert from the Polish KPMG company who signed the accounting-financial-auditing report, which the defendants’ attorneys consider to be inadmissible.

Disputed expertise cost state 8.6 million kuna

Todoric objected during Kamal’s first questioning held at the beginning of November last year, requesting the exemption of all judges and prosecutors involved in the case, however, that request was rejected.

The defence attorneys have been claiming for quite some time that Kamal’s expert report, which cost the state 8.6 million kuna, is inadmissible because it was not prepared by the Polish KPMG, but by Croatian experts who were in a conflict of interest because they worked for Agrokor during the term of its extraordinary administration.

Todoric and 14 co-defendants are charged with siphoning from the now defunct Agrokor conglomerate 1.2 billion kuna in the period from 2006 to 2017. According to the prosecution, 923.6 million kuna was obtained by Ivica Todoric, and 320 million kuna went to the Dutch Agrokor Investment BV company.

The Zagreb County Court indictment panel has been debating the merits of the 459-page indictment since 2021.