Swiss Court Rejects Croatian Lawsuit about INA Arbitration

Total Croatia News

Another defeat for Croatian government in the INA-MOL affair.

Croatian legal team, together with their colleagues from Switzerland, filed at the Swiss Federal Court in early February a request seeking to contest the decision made earlier by the Arbitration Court in Geneva in the INA-MOL case. The court has just announced its initial decision, reports N1 on April 18, 2017.

According to a member of the Court of Arbitration of the Croatian Chamber of Commerce Miljenko Giunio, the court has rejected the Croatian request to delay the implementation of the arbitration decision in terms of material costs. “For me, this is a parallel request which shows that Croatia, as one of the parties, has filed to the court a request for suspension of implementation of the decision. That can refer to the payment of costs of both the arbitration court and lawyers. These are big expenses,” he said.

According to the interpretation of the legal expert, the decision pertains to procedural issues. “If my interpretation is correct, this is a decision rejecting the request for a suspension of the part of the arbitration verdict demanding that Croatia pays the costs,” said Giunio.

The arbitration proceedings were launched in November 2013, since MOL as the owner of 49 percent of INA argued that the government had not met its obligations under the master agreement on gas business and its annexes from 2009.

The news about MOL winning the arbitration proceedings against Croatia was announced by Prime Minister Andrej Plenković in a dramatic statement to the press late on Christmas Eve 2016. At the time, Plenković said that the government would try to fight the arbitration decision at Swiss courts. At the same time, the Prime Minister announced that the intention of the government was to buy back MOL’s shares of INA and return the strategically important oil company to Croatian ownership. Later it was announced that the government was planning to execute a partial privatization of Croatian Electric Company (HEP) in order to fund the buyback of INA’s shares. Despite numerous statements, in the last four months no specific actions have been taken to implement government’s announced plans.

Commenting on the latest decision, former Economy Minister and current HNS president Ivan Vrdoljak said that he feared that the preliminary verdict of the Swiss court was an indication of how the final decision will look like. “This decision has been influenced by the decision of the Croatian Constitutional Court. When we launched the arbitration proceedings, we had a verdict against former Prime Minister Sanader in the INA-MOL case, which the Constitutional Court later overturned. I think that the abolition of that verdict was one of the crucial arguments for the Arbitration Court.”


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