Finance Minister Zdravko Marić Comments on Agrokor’s Audit Report

Lauren Simmonds

Finance Minister Zdravko Marić is currently in Luxembourg at a meeting of EU Finance Ministers, from which he commented on the latest situation regarding Agrokor.

As Poslovni Dnevnik reports on the 10th of October, 2017, Croatia’s Finance Minister Zdravko Maric has commented on the state of Agrokor following the newest findings and controversies from Luxembourg.

In regard to Agrokor’s recent audit reports, Maric stated “We’re talking about big numbers. We haven’t seen any major repercussions from the Agrokor crisis on the Croatian economy, macroeconomic indicators also suggest that. I, as finance minister, am following the realisation of the tax revenues of the state budget. The execution of the first six months, when Croatia first achieved a surplus, confirms my statement.”

He also touched on Agrokor’s six million kuna tax debt which appeared in the media.

“In my statements, I try to be coherent and consistent. There is also some element of a link between the audit (report) and the Tax Administration. The accounting balance is not the same as the tax balance. The Tax Administration will certainly consider everything that has been published, but transactions between individual companies within a system are generally tax neutral. Different ways of valuing assets, even though they’re market-based, don’t always have to affect the tax base decrease. The same goes for different types of write-offs. All in all, I can assure you that as long as I’m the finance minister, the Tax Administration will continue on doing its job responsibly, and I’ll try to make sure it is deprived of any political influence, therefore completely independent,” Marić said.

When it comes to the somewhat increasingly sore subject of Ivica Todorić’s blog, Marić emphasised the fact that he has refrained from commenting on the ex Agrokor boss’ accusatory online postings throughout the past few weeks.

“As a rule, I’m just talking solely about the arguments at my disposal, I’m not speculating [about things] or imputing different kinds of conclusions. My famous statement about Agrokor on the 26th of January, 2017, was raised following a journalist’s question after [the release of] the report from Moodys. I said what I said. I didn’t have any meetings with anyone in January,” Marić said.

Asked whether or not Agrokor’s shocking audit report would affect public finances, Marić said that this issue was one of his main sources of concern.

“For now, the negative reactions to the Agrokor crisis are relatively less than what was expected, and I think that the financial statements show that the segments of both the food and agriculture industries are relatively good. There is a big challenge in front of us all now, especially from the perspective of running the company and how the process of restructuring will be led.”

Upon being asked how he interpreted the fact that business ethics were violated so deeply and for such a long time, Marić repeated the fact that while he worked in Agrokor, no financial statements were prepared under his sphere of responsibility, and that was the only thing he could say on the matter.


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