The competition is intense and it was not easy to choose, but here are the top 5 “uhljebs” in Croatia.
There are many things which make Croatia different from other countries, which is one of the main reasons why so many foreign tourists visit it every year. One of those things is “uhljebs”, although it is hard to believe that anyone would ever visit us to see one of them.
Who are uhljebs, you may wonder? They are people who make a living by gaining employment in various public institutions and state-owned companies thanks to their family or political connections, doing nothing, and often moving from one employer to another as political power changes hands. There are too many to list them all, but here are perhaps the top 5 mega-uhljebs at the moment, as selected by 24sata.hr on November 27, 2017.
Željko Krapljan has been in the news lately because, after being dismissed from the Sisak-Moslavina County Development Agency, he received 16 months’ salary as a redundancy payment, and was immediately after that appointed as managing director of Via Tela, one of the businesses owned by the Croatian Roads public company. And not only that; it was discovered that he had received a total of 631,000 kunas as redundancy payments from other public companies from which he had also been dismissed. Sisak-Moslavina County Prefect Ivo Žinić (HDZ) said that Krapljan was employed by the agency to develop a transport master plan for the county, but since the government had abandoned the project, his position was abolished. “We have settled the case out of court. Otherwise, the amount paid would be twice as large,” Žinić explained, denying that the redundancy was paid by the taxpayers, although he did not reveal who else could have paid it. Needless to say, Krapljan and Žinić are from the same political party.
The most well-known uhljeb in recent days is Mladen Jozinović, who was dismissed several days ago as the director of Piškornica, a company which runs a regional waste management centre for northwest Croatia. He became famous when it was discovered that he paid himself a million kunas in bonuses. As director of the waste management centre, he had a monthly net salary of 18,500 kunas. Still, that was not enough, so he founded a new company and gave himself the right to additional 10,000 kunas in monthly expenses, as well as a bonus in the amount of 10 percent of the revenues. Since the company last year had revenues of 10.2 million kunas, Jozinović paid million kunas in bonus to himself. After public pressure, the northern Croatia counties which own the waste management centre dismissed him and asked him to return the bonus, which he has still not done.
Valentin Dujmović (HNS) used to be the managing director of the local water-supply company in Dubrovnik. During his term of office, he was frequently accused by local HDZ officials of destroying the company. However, everything changed when HNS joined HDZ’s coalition at the national level. Suddenly, Dujmović became more than acceptable, and it is now expected he will be named deputy managing director of the national public company Croatian Water. Dujmović is a long-time HNS official in Dubrovnik. At the time of Mayor Andro Vlahušić (HNS), he was appointed as director of Sanitat company and later of the local waterworks. HNS nominated him for the Mayor of Dubrovnik, but Dujmović lost and ended up without a job. Fortunately, he still had his party membership card in his pocket. As deputy managing director of Croatian Water, he will have a salary between 15,000 and 20,000 kunas. “The decision about the deputy director will be made by the supervisory board. We cannot know what decision they will take,” said HNS officials unconvincingly. Of course, he will not be the first politically appointed uhljeb in Croatian Water. Its current managing director is Zoran Đuroković (HDZ), and his deputy is Krešimir Nevistić, who was appointed by the former minister Slaven Dobrović (MOST) after a scandal broke out which prevented him from appointing to the position a godfather of Božo Petrov, MOST leader.
Valter Krizmanić was a director in Croatian Electricity Company (HEP) until 2014 when it was discovered that he forged his university diploma from the University of Sarajevo. After a few days, Krizmanić was dismissed, together with Director of HEP Distribution Ljiljana Čule, who was his boss. Two years later, the Municipal Court in Pula sentenced Krizmanić to one year of imprisonment for the falsification of the diploma of electrical engineer from the University of Sarajevo. With this fake diploma, Krizmanić was chosen as the best candidate in the selection process, and he started working for Elektroistra in Pula in 2013. Just a month later, Krizmanić was appointed the director of Elektroistra, a HEP subsidiary. Krizmanić was also charged with fraud for salaries which he received as director, but the judge dismissed the charges, saying that Krizmanić did his job as the director, so he had the right to receive the salaries. Krizmanić first admitted his guilt, but later changed his story and claimed that he enrolled at the University of Sarajevo in 1985 and graduated in 1990. His friend allegedly sent him a counterfeit diploma from Sarajevo in 1991, with Krizmanić supposedly not knowing anything about it until the fact was discovered by media reports in August 2014. He did not offer any documents which would substantiate his claims.
In 2014, Mijo Šepak probably became the national record holder by severance pay. He is a high ranking HDZ official in Kutina, where he was director of the Moslavina municipal utility company for 12 years. While his party was in power, he signed a contract which guaranteed that he would receive a 1.8 million kuna severance payment, if he were ever dismissed from his position. The agreement stipulated that, if he were fired, Šepak would receive three-quarters of all his monthly salaries for the next 15 years. But that is not all. If the management were to move him to another position within the company, rather than to fire him outright, it would have to pay him managing director’s salary for the next 22 years. At the time, Šepak said there was not anything controversial about his severance pay, and added that he deserved it thanks to his long service.
Of course, these are just some of the more prominent examples of uhljebs in recent years in Croatia. While the practice is in no way confined to only one political group, it does seem that there is one political party whose officials feature more prominently in stories such as these.