“I inherited the Krš-Pađene case in 2017 when I took the office of minister of environmental protection and energy, and after several consultations with the State Attorney’s Office, we solved that case at the ministry in 2017,” Ćorić told the press.
He said the ministry’s decision was upheld by the Constitutional Court and the High Administrative Court and that it was the last decision by the ministry that had legal effect in that case.
Ćorić said that he had in no way influenced an opinion issued by the Ministry of Environmental Protection and Energy in 2009.
He said he would be available to the authorities “at any moment” and answer all their questions concerning Krš-Pađene, and that since the case was under investigation, he could not say more.
According to the Telegram web portal, Ćorić’s former assistant Domagoj Validžić, one of the persons USKOK suspects of having favoured the investors in the wind park, claims he did it at Ćorić’s request and that the Ministry of Environmental Protection and Energy, which Ćorić ran at the time, gave a positive opinion on the wind park even though, USKOK contends, the investors had not met all the requirements.
According to the media, Validžić told USKOK investigators that Ćorić had asked him to meet the investors’ demands.
Telegram says Validžić told investigators that Ćorić had asked him about a letter from the investors and that he concluded that the minister had received “some information from the other side and that the letter existed and that it would be sent to the ministry.”
Ćorić also wanted to know who at the ministry was in charge of a document that had to be drawn up for the investors, the media say. When Validžić told him it was Zoran Pačandi, head of the energy department, Ćorić allegedly said that Pačandi should be “relieved of some tasks so that he can hurry up that document” and that “the ministry’s response should be positive for the investors.”
The media say that Ćorić asked Validžić to send him the ministry’s response via email before sending it to the investors and that Validžić gave the email to the investigators. Validžić reportedly told investigators that the letter was sent to the investors with the state secretary’s signature.
According to the media, Validžić relayed his talks with Ćorić to Pačandi and that draft opinions were usually not sent to the minister.
The government sacked Validžić in April 2021 when USKOK started investigating him for abuse of office to the benefit of CEMP, a company owned by Milenko Bašić. According to USKOK, the opinion whereby the investors’ demands were met was made only based on the law on renewables, while regulations on obtaining preferential electricity producer status were disregarded.
USKOK suspects Validžić disregarded those regulations so that he could favour CEMP in agreement with Josipa Rimac, the then Public Administration Ministry state secretary and a former mayor of Knin.
USKOK’s investigation has covered Validžić, Rimac, Bašić as well as Krunoslav Jakupčić, former president of the Board of the Hrvatske Šume forest management company; Dragan Stipić, executive director of Bašić’s Lager company; Ivan Melvan, a former Hrvatske Šume executive; and Tomislav Jureković, a former director of the HERA energy regulator.
Also reported were former Gračac mayor Nataša Turbić, former Knin town councillor Marinko Tokmačija, former assistant economy minister Ana Mandac, former Agriculture Ministry chief of staff Ružica Njavro, and entrepreneurs Josip Ravlić, Ante Sladić and Nikola Lapčić.