Russian oil magnate Mikhail Gutseriyev told the Zagreb County Court on Friday that the key prosecutorial key witness Robert Jezic at the trial of the former Croatian Prime Minister Ivo Sanader had stolen his money allocated for the Druzba Adria project and that the money had not been intended for bribing Sanader as claimed by the Office for the Suppression of Corruption and Organised Crime (USKOK),
Jezic stole my money and I suffered losses in that business deal. However, I think that I would be without losses in the end, Gutseriyev said, appearing as a defence witness at the trial of the former Croatian premier Sanader charged with taking a 10 million euros bribe from the Hungarian oil company MOL in exchange for enabling for it the buyout in INA.
Gutseriyev arrived in the Zagreb court accompanied by Hungarian businessman Imre Fazekas who testified at the trial on Thursday when he also claimed that five million euros deposited in the bank account of Jezic's Swiss company Xenoplast was not intended for Sanader but for the purchase of a land plot on the Croatian island of Krk for future energy product storage facilities.
Gutseriyev said today that Fazekas had done in that project what he had told him and that he had financed the project. According to the Russian businessman, however, as soon as the prosecutors started calling him for questioning he had realised that his money had been stolen by Jezic and the director of Jezic's company in Switzerland, Stefan Horlimann.
"They should have given the money back, however, they found the way how not to do that and made up a story because of which I am here today in the courtroom," said the witness Gutseriyev.
Asked by the prosecutor that today he was claiming that it was his money while yesterday witness Fazekas said that he had paid his own money to Jezic, the witness said that it was then the way his business partner Fazekas had stated. Gutseriyev and Fazekas are co-owners of a company, registered in Cyprus, through which the money had been paid to Jezic's Xenoplast.
Gutseriyev recalled Fazekas having informed him that there had been some problems with the project in Croatia but that everything would be resolved. However, the launching of the criminal proceedings against Sanader has made everything more complicated, the Russian witness said today.
Asked by the prosecutor whether the Druzba Adria project was secret, he answered that all projects were secret, otherwise they would fail.
He confirmed that he had been cooperating with MOL for nine years in crude oil extraction in western Siberia and he described MOL CEO Zsolt Hernadi, who is cited in the Sanader indictment as the man who bribed the Croatian PM, as his friend, partner and one of the most respected men in the oil business.
The witness said he had never, unfortunately, met Sanader and that he had only heard from the media that the criminal proceedings had been initiated against him.
At the beginning of his testimony, Gutseriyev introduced himself as a businessman who owns 300 to 400 companies in Russia, Great Britain and Africa as well as in the former Soviet Union and eastern Europe and that the main lines of his business are gas, oil, real estate and construction.
When asked by the USKOK prosecutor about criminal proceedings against him, the witness confirmed that in 2007 as many as 70 criminal proceedings had been launched against him in Russia and that all of them were dropped in 2009.
He said that all his life he had been a subject of criminal proceedings and that he was now also under investigation as he "has a lot of money and attracts honest and less honest people."
At the end of today's hearing, the USKOK contested the veracity of the Russian witness's testimony.
The trial is adjourned until 24 May.