Prosecutor Confirms Reports of Third Investigation in Agrokor Case

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ZAGREB, March 25, 2019 – The Zagreb County Prosecutor’s Office on Monday officially confirmed media reports that it has launched yet another, third investigation in the case of the Agrokor conglomerate which covers the company’s former owner, Ivica Todorić, the former executive vice president for business and development, Piruška Canjuga, and the former director for facility investments, Ante Huljev.

The prosecutor’s office said in a press release that the three are charged with abuse of office in doing business whereby they defrauded Agrokor and illegally gained an amount of 1,250,000 euros. It added that the offences were committed in November and December 2013 in Zagreb and in Cham, Switzerland.

The press release added that the prosecutor’s office had launched an investigation against a 48-year old Austrian citizen on suspicion of abuse of trust in business operations in connection with the same offences, however, the decision on that investigation had not become final yet.

The Jutarnji List daily on Monday reported that the investigation is related to events in Agrokor in 2013 and sale-leaseback agreements between Agrokor and the US-based W. P. Carey real estate fund, with Agrokor selling property, warehouses, supermarkets and hypermarkets and then re-leasing them.

“In short, Agrokor sold its real estate to W. P. Carey and received tens of millions of euro of fresh capital while at the same time it took out long-term leases for the same properties. It is suspected that by doing so Agrokor in fact bypassed classic borrowing from commercial banks and was also able to state a lower level of indebtedness in its financial statements. The prosecution, however, is not incriminating the “sale-leaseback” agreements as such but rather the “leakage” of some of the money obtained in that process,” the daily reported.

In late 2013, in a fifth transaction of this nature, Agrokor sold retail outlets to W. P. Carey in the amount of about 67 million euro and then immediately leased the same properties. On that occasion, Agrokor paid a company in Switzerland a hefty amount of 1.25 million euro to mediate and provide consultancy services in that deal.

An inspection of those transactions revealed that Ivica Todorić ordered that payment to the Swiss company. With alleged involvement of Piruška Canjuga, the order was processed by Ante Huljev, the Jutarnji List wrote, adding that the money was actually paid to an off-shore company in Switzerland, which was founded in such a way to hide the identity of the account’s owner.

More news on Agrokor can be found in the Business section.


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