The Supreme Court has dismissed the appeals by the USKOK anti-corruption office and the defendants and upheld the verdict of six years against former Croatian prime minister Ivo Sanader for taking a bribe from MOL head Zsolt Hernadi, who was sentenced to two years.
The Supreme Court said Sanader and Hernadi were sentenced because they agreed that, for a €10 million bribe, they would ensure the conclusion of unfounded changes to agreements concerning the Croatian oil company INA, in which the state has a stake. Those changes were aimed at giving the Hungarian energy group MOL controlling influence in INA.
The Court said Sanader and Hernadi also arranged the conclusion of an agreement on divesting INA’s unprofitable gas business, which would be entirely taken over by Croatia.
According to the Court, Sanader used his position and authority to make sure that Croatia signed those agreements in which the demands MOL made during negotiations on the agreements were accepted. In exchange for the favour, Hernadi paid Sanader €10 million.
The payment was arranged via the conclusion of fictitious agreements on consulting and other services with one company, which received €5 million in 2009 and was supposed to pay it to Sanader after some time, while the payment of the other €5 million was never made, the Supreme Court said.
It added that the company was ordered to pay the €5 million it received for Sanader into the state budget.
The company was owned by Robert Ježić, who admitted during the trial that he was supposed to give MOL’s bribe to Sanader.
The Supreme Court found that the sentence was neither too harsh nor too mild but properly meted out given the mitigating and aggravating circumstances.
The fact that Hernadi had no prior convictions was taken as a mitigating circumstance while the fact that he offered and gave Sanader a bribe was found to be an aggravating one.
Sanader has been in prison since April 2019, when the Supreme Court increased his sentence for corruption in the Planinska case.
On 13 October, the Supreme Court upheld in part the verdict delivered in the Fimi Media corruption. Sanader’s sentence was reduced from eight to seven years for siphoning money from state institutions and companies, while the HDZ party, which he led at the time, was fined HRK 3.5 million.
The Supreme Court is expected to deliver soon the final verdict in the HEP-DIOKI case in which Sanader was acquitted pending appeal.