Agrokor Founder Todorić Extradited from Britain, Spends Night in Prison

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ZAGREB, November 8, 2018 – The founder of the ailing Agrokor conglomerate, Ivica Todorić, arrived in Zagreb from London at 2050 hrs Wednesday after a UK court granted Croatia’s request for his extradition on October 25.

Todoric’s wife Vesna told N1 broadcaster that her husband would prove that he had not taken a single euro out of the company.

Todorić, his two sons Ivan and Ante and 12 Agrokor executives and auditors are under investigation for illegally siphoning more than a billion kuna from the debt-laden conglomerate. Todorić was taken to prison immediately upon landing at Zagreb Airport. Detention was ordered to prevent him from tampering with witnesses. Only one witness has not yet been questioned in the investigation launched last year.

Todorić was arrested in London on November 7 last year based on a European Arrest Warrant issued by Croatia. He fled to London after an investigation was launched in the Agrokor case, claiming that he was being politically persecuted by Croatian authorities. He was released the same day after paying bail of one hundred thousand pounds and issued with precautionary measures. Following the first ruling concerning his extradition on April 23, Todorić was set with sterner precautionary measures and was required to report to the court every day instead of just twice a week which he had been ordered to do until then.

Todorić handed himself over to British authorities 22 days after Croatian police inspectors entered his Zagreb residence and an investigation was launched on suspicion that he, with the assistance of his sons and associates, siphoned money from the ailing conglomerate.

The High Court in London on 24 July rejected Todorić’s request for the right of appeal to the initial ruling of April 23. After his appeal was rejected, Todorić requested another opportunity to be heard by the court which was upheld and a hearing was set for September 6. His defence team then applied for an adjournment claiming that they had only just taken over the case and that they required time to study the case and that they had new evidence supporting his claim of political persecution.

Even though his defence announced that it would present new evidence, at the hearing on October 25, nothing new was presented and the defence’s only argument was that Croatia had issued the European Arrest Warrant prematurely, prior to being certain that the investigation would result in an indictment and trial.

One of Todorić’s defence attorneys, Barrister James Hines, referred to depositions by witnesses given to the USKOK anti-corruption office which were later leaked in public in the Hotmail scandal and said that he hoped that he would prove political influence on the investigation.

However, during the hearing on October 25, Hines, who presented his arguments for almost two hours said that the warrant for Todorić’s arrest was issued without a confirmed indictment and based only on the decision to launch an investigation which did not necessarily guarantee that his client would in fact be indicted, meaning that the result of the investigation was presumed.

Counsel for the prosecution presented arguments in defence of the lower-instance ruling on extradition, and underscored that a lot of evidence had been collected prior to issuing the arrest warrant.

Judge Duncan Ouseley dismissed the defence motion to allow Todorić to appeal, making the first-instance ruling final and paving the way for his extradition. After the court approved his extradition to Croatia, Todorić said that he was “a little disappointed” but that he was ready for new battles.

Investigation of Todorić and others launched for over a billion kuna in unlawful gain at Agrokor

The Zagreb County Prosecutor’s Office launched an investigation into Todorić, his sons Ivan and and Ante and 12 Agrokor executives and auditors for unlawfully acquiring 1.142 billion kuna.

Aside from Todoric and his son, the investigation includes Alojzije Pandžić, Damir Kuštrak, Hrvoje Balent, Ivica Crnjac, Olivio Discordia, Marijan Alagušić, Sanja Hrstić, Mislav Galić, Tomislav Lučić, Piruška Canjuga, Ljerka Puljić and Ivica Sertić. All sat on Agrokor’s management or supervisory board. Discordia and Hrstić worked for the Baker Tilly audit company, which conducted audit reports for Agrokor.

The accusations against Todorić include 320 million kuna acquired for “one legal entity” through document forgery and unlawful book keeping.

Todorić is under investigation in another case. The investigation was launched on 18 December 2017 in connection with a 117.5 million kuna loan which the Nexus Private Equity Partners investment fund gave Agrokor through the Nexus Ulaganja investment company.

Todorić’s son Ivan, Nexus management board chair Marko Lesić and management board member Krešimir Rudžjak are also being investigated in that case.

Todorić has 64.4 million euro in frozen assets in Croatia, the UK, the Netherlands and Canada. He financed his stay in London with money earned from the sale of his wife’s family home.

For more on Ivica Todorić, click here.

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