Economy and Sustainable Development Minister Davor Filipovic said on Wednesday that according to information available to him, former HEP power company CEO Frane Barbaric would continue to be employed with HEP and would not take severance pay.
Answering questions on the margins of a conference on green energy, Filipovic said that Barbaric was entitled to a position in HEP in line with his qualifications.
Asked if Barbaric’s membership in the ruling HDZ party would be discussed, the minister said that he still had not consulted with his colleagues on the matter.
Consultations are currently under way on a new HEP CEO and after they are completed, it will be announced who will be heading the company in the coming period, Filipovic said.
He said that the HEP General Assembly met on Wednesday morning, and that he confirmed members of the Supervisory Board, which would meet in the coming days.
Asked if he considered the “gas for a cent” affair closed, Filipovic said that he had talked about the situation in great detail before the parliamentary Committee on Economy in July and that he had nothing to add to it.
As for possible recapitalisation of HEP to compensate it for the damage incurred due to the sale of gas below market prices, Filipovic said the government stood firmly by HEP.
“We have found a way to compensate HEP for the loss so that citizens can eventually continue to pay the price of electricity which is the second lowest in the EU,” said the minister, adding that HEP would be compensated on a monthly basis.
This past Sunday, Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic said that new circumstances had appeared regarding HEP CEO Barbaric and he no longer had the prerequisites for remaining in office.
The Split municipal prosecutor’s office last Friday indicted Barbaric for illegally building a villa on the island of Hvar, which he said he would demolish at his own expense.
He is charged with building the villa although he was aware that the location in question was part of the protected coastal strip of special interest to the state, and with failing to previously obtain a building permit.
The opposition had been asking for months that Barbaric be dismissed, mainly due to the “gas for a cent” affair which saw HEP generate millions in losses for selling gas at low prices.
The affair was uncovered last summer, after which the opposition questioned the economy minister and the heads of HEP, the Plinacro gas operator and the HROTE and HERA regulators to find out who was responsible for the omissions in the sale of surplus gas.
Since Plenkovic kept refusing to sack Barbaric, saying that a decision on the affair would be made when the government decided to do so, the opposition suspected that Barbaric was blackmailing him and even that Plenkovic was “taking a share of the pie.”