Ćorić says Never Discussed Škugor with PM, Slams Vanđelić for “Alternative Facts”

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Ćorić told Hina today that INA Supervisory Board’s former chair, Damir Vanđelić “is creative in presenting alternative facts” after Vanđelić said that the INA gas resale contract was not within the remit of the Supervisory Board but of the Management Board and that he notified the competent officials, including former minister Ćorić when he realised that INA was losing money.

“I never talked about Damir Škugor with Plenković,” Ćorić told Hina, dismissing allegations presented by the Nacional weekly about this case.

Škugor, one of the five suspects in the INA gas resale scam, was, according to the report made by the Nacional, “among trustworthy persons in Plenković’s inner circle” and the newspaper also says that INA Management Board chairman Sándor Fasimon stated that it was Plenković in fact who in 2019 pushed for Škugor to be appointed the director of INA’s natural gas trade division.

“Two independent sources claim that Fasimon said that he came to that conclusion after talks he had conducted with the then Economy Minister, Tomislav Ćorić,” Nacional alleges.

According to the Nacional, it was Ćorić who directly asked Fasimon for Škugor’s appointment, adding that he was conveying Prime Minister Plenković’s wishes.

“During my ministerial term, I have never insisted or requested any personnel appointments during the talks with Fasimon, including in Škugor’s appointment,” Ćorić said.

“This also means that I have never referred to the Prime Minister,” said Ćorić.

The five suspects, including INA executive Damir Škugor, were arrested last Saturday on suspicion of defrauding INA of more than one billion kuna by buying natural gas supplies from the company at below-the-market price and then selling that gas at market prices, thus making an illegal gain of at least HRK 848 million (approx. €113 million).

Investigators believe that from June 2020 to 27 August this year, Damir Škugor, head of INA’s Gas and Power division and deputy chair of the Plinara Istočne Slavonije Supervisory Board, conspired with the other suspects, including his father Dane Škugor, their business partners Goran Husić and lawyer Josip Šurjak and Management Board chair of the Plinara Istočne Slavonije gas distributor, Marija Ratkić to sell INA’s gas below market prices.

Minister can’t know about transactions conducted at four levels below Management

Commenting on the gas resale scam, Ćorić said that the relevant minister “could not have known the prices at which transactions were being conducted four levels below the Management.”

Ćorić also commended the Ministry of Finance, the Tax Administration, and the Anti-Money Laundering Office for successfully revealing the operation aimed at exposing criminal wrongdoings in INA.

Ćorić says Vanđelić presented “alternative facts”

A former chair of the INA Supervisory Board Damir Vanđelić has said that the INA gas resale contract was not within the remit of the Supervisory Board but of the Management Board and that he notified the competent officials, including former minister Tomislav Ćorić, after realising that INA was losing money.

Vanđelić was first a member of the INA Supervisory Board and in 2016 he was appointed its chair for a term of five years.

Responding to the claims, Ćorić said that “Vanđelić is very creative in presenting alternative facts.”

“We emailed all members of the Supervisory Board to say that INA’s business has been lagging behind and that we are losing 200 million euros annually, so there is obviously a problem. I sent the email to all members of the management and supervisory boards, as well as to (then Economy Minister Tomislav) Ćorić,” Vanđelić told the N1 broadcaster today, adding that he did not receive any response, but a phone call in July, “when we were practically reprimanded for problematising the matter.”

“Ćorić said that I was politicising the matter,” Vanđelić said, adding that “at that meeting, Škugor’s name was not mentioned, I do not know him.”


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