He was speaking to the press ahead of a meeting he convened with INA’s management at which, he said, he would ask for detailed explanations of the latest events.
In an operation launched on Saturday by the USKOK anti-corruption office and the police, five persons were arrested on suspicion of wrongdoing with INA’s natural gas, which was sold below the market price. Allegedly, the company has been defrauded by over HRK 1 billion (over €133 million).
One of the suspects, INA executive Damir Škugor, told investigators he was not guilty and that the gas was sold in line with the company’s business policy.
The audit will also examine the role of INA’s internal audit, audit committee, external audit, and its management and supervisory boards, Filipović said.
He said it was “very important” for the audit to examine all contracts, gas procurement and sale prices, and the conditions under which business partners signed those contracts with INA.
The minister said he expected independent auditors to also give recommendations for internal control at INA.
He congratulated the Finance Ministry, the police, the State Attorney’s Office, and everyone involved in uncovering this affair.
As for questions raised by some about his responsibility as a former member of INA’s supervisory board, Filipović said he spent a little over four months in that position.
“The contentious contract with the OMS company was signed two months before I was appointed to INA’s supervisory board, and all this happened from mid-2020 onwards,” he said, adding that it is known who the presidents and members of the supervisory and management boards at that time were.
Filipović said he did not support adopting the minutes of a supervisory board meeting at which this year’s business plans were adopted because he did not take part in those decisions.
Asked if he had talked with management board president Sandor Fasimon, he said he had talked with the Croatian members of the supervisory and management boards.
He said he asked the management board’s Croatian members to convene an urgent meeting of the board, expected to be held on Wednesday, at which they would ask for additional explanations, analyses and documents to find out how something like this could happen.
Journalists noted that according to some reports, the Plinara Istočne Slavonije gas distribution company had warned the government about things not adding up and extra profits. Asked if he had any information about these events prior to Saturday’s operation, the minister said he did not.
Filipović reiterated that the contentious contract was signed before his arrival in INA and said this concerned the fourth level of decision-making in the company.
“INA’s management board has to give many answers as to what happened with internal control and the internal audit,” he said, adding that the affair was uncovered and assets were blocked thanks to the Tax Administration’s independent money laundering division.
“We see that the system is working, from the police to the Finance Ministry,” Filipović said, adding that he has not spoken with his predecessor Tomislav Ćorić.
“I don’t want to be his attorney, but minister Ćorić couldn’t have known what the fourth management level in INA was doing,” he said.