Ex Minister Gabrijela Žalac Suspected of Embezzling EU Cash

Lauren Simmonds

Gabrijela Žalac
Patrik Macek/PIXSELL

December the 12th, 2023 – Former minister Gabrijela Žalac is currently suspected of embezzling EU funds by prosecutors, and she’s not the only one in the unwanted limelight.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, the ongoing investigation also includes a former employee of the same ministry Gabrijela Žalac once stood at the helm of. That ex employee is suspected of having taken action to cover the costs of the former minister’s birthday celebration in a restaurant with grants from the Competitiveness and Cohesion Operational Programme, which are EU funds.

The European Public Prosecutor’s Office (EPPO) in Zagreb has launched an investigation against the former minister of the Ministry of Regional Development and EU Funds (MRRFEU), Gabrijela Žalac, who is suspected of ordering that her private expenses in various catering and hospitality establishments be paid for using public money.

The European Prosecutor’s Office states that ex minister Gabrijela Žalac and the aforementioned employee of that same ministry are suspected of abusing their positions and authority. It’s worth mentioning that this investigation follows previous investigations conducted in cooperation with PNUSKOK. It is alleged that during the period from May 2017 to July 2019, Gabrijela Žalac ordered that her private expenses in catering and hospitality facilities be paid for with public money.

On at least nine occasions, she ordered that her private expenses be partly paid from the position of representation of the Minister’s Cabinet as the cost of representation for official purposes, and partly included in the procurement costs of the Directorate for Strategic Planning and Coordination of EU funds from the Competitiveness and Cohesion Operational Programme.

In this way, she obtained an undue benefit in the amount of 9,732 euros. 85 percent of that sum was to the detriment of the EU, while 15 percent of it was Croatian taxpayers’ money from the aforementioned programme, whereby at least 1353 euros were paid for the former minister’s private purposes.

To briefly recall, ex minister Gabrijela Žalac was previously accused of asking HBOR to approve a loan of 130,000 euros to an investor in the Wind Power Affair. This was allegedly done alongside Josipa Rimac, who now goes by the surname Čulina.


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