As Index writes, Finance Minister Zdravko Maric is leaving his position within Plenkovic’s government at his own request. He has already informed Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic about everything, and further information should be published later on today after the meeting of the cabinet of the government.
“It’s true that Zdravko Maric is stepping down from his position of Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance on his own initiative. The Prime Minister will inform the members of the cabinet tomorrow about Maric’s departure. We’re grateful to him for the contribution he has made in the government over the past six years. The government will continue to work as it did before to solve all the challenges we’re facing in the crisis, protecting people, and the economy. The Prime Minister will present Marko Primorac to the parliamentary majority as a candidate for the new Minister of Finance, and to the members of the Croatian Parliament during the next week,” the government told Index.
Finance Minister Zdravko Maric joined the government from his former position within the former Agrokor, he survived several situations and affairs and is the author and implementer of several rounds of tax reform.
Maric was born on February the 3rd, 1977 in Slavonski Brod and graduated from the Faculty of Economics in Zagreb in 2000, majoring in finance. In 2004 he received his master’s degree at the same faculty with the topic of his master’s thesis entitled “An analysis of capital inflows to transition countries through the impact on investments”.
In 2007, he completed the Executive Education Programme “Public Financial Management”, at Harvard University, the J.F. Kennedy School of Government. He received his doctorate in 2008 at the Faculty of Economics in Zagreb on the topic “The impact of foreign direct investment on the productivity of Croatian companies”.
He worked as an assistant at the Institute of Economics in Zagreb, as an external associate – lecturer at the Zagreb School of Economics and Management, and as an external associate – lecturer at the International Graduate Business School in Zagreb.
From Agrokor to the Croatian Government
In 2006, he started working in the Ministry of Finance as Assistant Minister for Macroeconomic Analysis and Planning, and in 2008 he became State Secretary in the Ministry of Finance.
From 2012 to 2016, he worked at Agrokor as an executive director for strategy and capital markets. From that position, he came to the position of non-partisan finance minister in the government of Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic.
After the fall of Agrokor and its longtime owner Ivica Todoric, the opposition demanded his departure in 2017 and initiated a no-confidence motion. The three ministers from MOST, who were part of the government at the time, were in favour of his departure, which is why they themselves were dismissed. The vote of no confidence did not pass in Parliament either.
A summer holiday at the Bellevue Hotel with question marks hovering above it…
Finance Minister Zdravko Maric is allegedly stepping down from his position after a recent story broke about his stay “over an extended weekend” at the Bellevue Hotel in Mali Losinj.
Back in June 2019, Maric stayed with his family in the luxurious Bellevue Hotel in Mali Losinj. For accommodation for two adults and two children, the Ostro portal revealed, he paid 291.20 euros (2153 kuna) per night, which is three times lower than the usual price for that period of the year. In other words, Minister Maric received a huge discount that not all hotel guests can count on.
“I didn’t influence that decision, nor did I ask for any discounts. Privately, and long before I was a minister, it never once happened to me,” Maric said of the event.
He was aboard the 800,000 euro yacht owned by entrepreneur Blaz Pavicic
Back in August 2021, Maric came under the scrutiny of the Commission for deciding on conflicts of interest after it was revealed that he had spent four to five days on the 800,000-euro yacht owned by entrepreneur Blaz Pavicic. At first, Maric refused to give the name of the owner of the yacht, and then, after revealing the name, he said that this entrepreneur had nothing to do with his department in terms of tax debt or HBOR loans, and that the concessions owned by Pavicic’s companies were within the department of the Ministry of Transport.
It was said that Finance Minister Zdravko Maric deliberately forgot that his Ministry, more precisely the Customs Administration, is extremely important for the business of Pavicic’s companies.
Maric is also accused that, together with the government, he knowingly misled the Commission for deciding on conflicts of interest three years earlier, when in connection with the Lex Agrokor case, i.e. the Borg affair, he said that he met with Ivica Todoric only twice, and on February the 26th and March the 3rd, 2017, while he failed to mention other meetings.
Maric would have remained innocent had it not been for Martina Dalic’s testimony…
Finance Minister Zdravko then told the Commission that at those two meetings with Todoric, he didn’t present or convey any positions, opinions or proposals. He also said that no decisions or conclusions were made at those meetings, and also that his role was a passive one.
This was his key evidence that he wasn’t in a conflict of interest in connection with the Todoric case, that is, Lex Agrokor. The commission acquitted him in that case.
Maric’s claim would have remained the same if the statement to the USKOK of former vice-president Martina Dalic hadn’t come to light, who admitted to the investigators that Maric was present at at least five meetings back during February 2017, which concerned not only the creation of Lex Agrokor but also meetings with the leadership of Agrokor. The crucial meeting is from February the 19th, when Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic ordered Dalic and Maric to go to a meeting with Todoric.
At that meeting, Todoric asked for the help of HBOR, and Maric was given a presentation of the current financial situation within the then enfeebled Agrokor. After this information came to light, and it was contrary to what Maric said the first time before the Commission, the Minister of Finance then defended himself, saying that he had not lied.
“I read and see a lot of constructions that I told some lies and untruths. This is all easily verifiable,” said Maric, inviting journalists to check what he was asked before the Commission and what he answered.
But the Commission, which acquitted him in the first trial, decided back in August 2018 to renew the proceedings against both Maric and Dalic. At the end of 2018, they made a decision that Finance Minister Zdravko Maric and former Deputy Prime Minister Martina Dalic had “violated the principle of public office in the case of Agrokor”. Both Maric and Dalic appealed against that decision.
Marko Primorac is the new Finance Minister candidate
The Croatian Government has confirmed the information that Marko Primorac is the new candidate for the position of Finance Minister.
“The Prime Minister will present Marko Primorc as a candidate for the new Minister of Finance to the parliamentary majority, and to the members of the Croatian Parliament during the next week,” Index was told.
“Marko Primorac (1984) is a professor at the Faculty of Economics in Zagreb, whose area of expertise is financial management in the public sector, tax policy and fiscal decentralisation,” added the Government. Marko Primorac was also an economic adviser to Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic back when she was president.
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