INA - MOL case

Hungarian member of INA management board testifies in Sanader trial

09.11.2012 u 22:31


A Hungarian member of the management board of the Croatian oil company INA, Pal Zoltan Kara, appeared as a defence witness in the trial of former Croatian prime minister Ivo Sanader at the Zagreb County Court on Friday, saying he did not feel that the Croatian members of the INA management board were discriminated against.

The witness said that INA was managed in accordance with Croatian laws, and that as far as he knew, the INA Privatisation Act stipulates that the government may not have more than 25% of shares in INA before Croatia joins the European Union.

Unlike the Croatian board members, who claimed that they did not have access to all information concerning oil purchases, Kara said that they could obtain such information, but were not allowed to divulge or make copies of it.

He said that the board members adopted most of the decisions by consensus, noting that over the last year and a half the Croatian representatives had voted fewer than five times differently than the representatives of the Hungarian company MOL.

The witness said that the board had decided, by outvoting the Croatian members, that the board members were allowed only to see information about oil purchases but were not allowed to make copies of it. It was also decided that the Croatian members of the management board could not attend meetings of executive directors.

Kara said that there had also been cases when board chairman Zoltan Aldott sided with the Croatian board members, and when asked by the prosecutor to elaborate, he said it happened after Croatian members testified in this case.

The witness said that from late 2008 until 2010 INA had technically been in bankruptcy, and after MOL assumed management rights its profit reached 1.8 billion kuna in 2011.

When asked by the prosecutor if he knew that INA's profit in the first nine months of this year was 54% lower than last year, Kara said that this year's profit was 1.5 billion kuna, explaining that last year INA had generated revenues in Syria and this year "not a penny".

Kara said that former deputy prime minister Damir Polancec had asked MOL CEO Zsolt Hernadi for advice on how to prevent a hostile takeover of the Podravka food company. As a result, MOL gave the Hungarian OTP Bank a guarantee for a loan to Podravka, which brought MOL a multi-million profit in 2011 which was paid by Podravka. Polancec and the other accused are on trial for causing millions of kuna in damage to Podravka.

Sanader is on trial in two cases. In the Hypo Alpe Adria Bank case he is accused of war profiteering, while in the INA-MOL case he is charged with receiving 10 million euros in bribes from MOL in exchange for leaving the management of INA to the Hungarian company.