Opposition MPs unite in calling for PM Plenkovic to step down over Ina Affair

NEWS 06.09.202213:16 0 komentara
Patrik Macek/PIXSELL

Opposition MPs in the 151-seat Parliament united on Tuesday to called on Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic and his cabinet to step down, in the wake of the revelations of illegal gas trading at the national oil company Ina, accusing the ruling HDZ party of corruption.

All 11 opposition party clubs held a joint meeting on Tuesday in Parliament to discuss the Ina gas sale scandal, after Parliament Speaker, Gordan Jandrokovic (HDZ), refused their request to convene an urgent meeting of parliament about this case.

The suspects in the Ina scandal —  former Ina executive and low-ranking member of HDZ, Damir Skugor, Skugor’s father Dane, the former head of the national bar association, Josip Surjak, Surjak’s business partner, Goran Husic, and the former CEO of a publicly-owned regional gas distributor PIS in eastern Croatia and also a member of HDZ, Marija Ratkic, allegedly defrauded Ina of more than 1 billion kuna (€133 million).

Investigator allege that Skugor, who was in charge of gas trading, signed contracts supplying Ina’s natural gas to Ratkic’s company PIS at fixed prices which were well below market value. Ratkic would then re-sell the gas at the same price to a private-owned business called OMS Ulaganje owned by Surjak and Husic, who would then go on to sell the gas to buyers abroad, at prices often ten times higher – investigators found that the suspects were buying gas from Ina via Ratkic’s company for €19.5 per mWh only to sell it on the open market for €210 per mWh.

The scheme was only discovered after large sums appeared in the account of Damir Skugor’s father Dane, a pensioner living quietly near Sibenik, which led the bank to notify authorities under rules adopted to combat money laundering.

Investigators allege that Damir and Dane Skugor pocketed nearly 500 million kuna (€66 million), that Husic took more than 90 million kuna (€12 million), and Surjak another 68.9 million kuna (€9 million). In addition, more than 200 million kuna (€27 million) in profit was discovered in the bank account of OMS Ulaganje. Ratkic is not suspected of acquiring any financial gain from the scheme. During questioning, Skugor said he was not guilty, and that the gas was sold in line with Ina’s standard business policy.

MP Ivana Posavec-Krivec of the Social Democrats – a group of former members of the Social Democrat Party (SDP) – described the behavior of PM Plenkovic in this case as “shocking and nonchalant.”

Her party colleague, MP Domagoj Hajdukovic, said that if the PM had no knowledge of what had happened at Ina then that means that he has no control, and that “we are powerless, incapable and impotent to manage our strategic resources.” On the other hand, if Ina’s management and the government had some knowledge about the case then they are “the biggest thieves in the history of this country.”

Social Democratic Party (SDP) leader, MP Pedja Grbin, said that “the common denominator in all the plunders is HDZ membership.” Grbin said that opposition parties would “use all parliament tools to free the country of the shackles that are pushing it downward.”

Leader of the conservative populist party Most, MP Bozo Petrov, said that “two words best describe this situation: insolence and impertinence.”

MP Sandra Bencic of the Green-Left Bloc said that PM Plenkovic was responsible for the scandal, and asking rhetorically whether the government would sue Ina over this case. “The prime minister has to go. This is a case that is reason enough to hold a new election.” Bencic insisted on political responsibility also because of the decision of the state regulator Hera which issued a permit to buy and sell gas to a new-founded company with a single employee, which ended up being implicated in this scandal.

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