October the 9th, 2020 – The name Ivica Todoric has become synonymous with high level corruption and masked deeds in the weird world of Croatian business in which politics tends to mix a little too closely.
The former boss of Agrokor (now Fortenova) has had a wild ride of sorts. From fleeding Croatia to London, where he lived in a wealthy area and was tried by a British court, to being sent back to Croatia and to Remetinec and then released after somehow finding the huge amount of money in cash needed to secure bail. Things were all quiet on the proverbial Western Front for several months as Ivica Todoric’s trial loomed.
The former main man of Agrokor, a previously untouchable and somewhat precarious figure who had built Agrokor from nothing into the enormous, strategically important company it later became, was like a dog with a bone in his fight to shed light on the alleged corruption which surrounded the ”kidnapping of Agrokor” as he so frequently referred to it. He profusely claimed that the many accusations against him were false and that he had plenty of evidence to prove that. He wrote his later somewhat infamous blog from the comfort of his former London pad and went about exposing all and sundry at the Croatian political top of the time, with former Deputy PM Martina Dalic, a favourite target of his, leaving her position amid the claims. You can read more about Ivica Todoric, the only English language translations of his blog and his varying escapades here.
Finally, Ivica Todoric’s trial actually began, and he was proclaimed innocent. But why? The presiding judge offered her reasoning for her passing that verdict.
As Poslovni Dnevnik/Ivana Jakelic/VL writes on the 7th of October, 2020, the Zagreb County Court handed down the first verdict to the former owner of Agrokor, Ivica Todoric and his co-defendants and former business associates for extracting 1.26 million euros from Agrokor through the account of a Swiss company. Ivica Todoric, Ante Huljev, Piruska Canjuga and Nicole de Rossi were all acquitted.
“After the evidentiary proceedings, it hasn’t been proven that the accused would’ve committed the criminal offenses in the manner in which they’ve been charged. In order to be found guilty, every allegation in the indictment list must be proven. In this procedure, the allegations from the indictment have not been proven,” explained Judge Maja Stampar Stipic.
”The Trial Chamber found that the money paid was spent on advisory services. The state attorney’s office didn’t bring any evidence to the table that would contradict that,” she added. The Council concluded that the engagement of the consulting company benefited Agrokor and that Mercator was purchased after that deal.
“This regarded the realisation of a very successful business venture,” said the judge. The prosecution charged the four with extracting 1.2 million euros from Agrokor through the account of a Swiss company for services that were not performed.
Ivica Todoric’s co-defendants denied their guilt and claimed that everything that happened was done to get a job done. The Prosecution, on the other hand, considered that the allegations in the indictment had been proven, ie that it was a job that hadn’t been performed. They have since announced an appeal against the verdict.