Former PM Sanader’s Verdict Expected Next Week

Total Croatia News

ZAGREB, October 16, 2018 – A verdict against former prime minister Ivo Sanader in the retrial in the Hypo case, in which he is accused of abuse of office and war profiteering and which is just one of the trials conducted against him since he stepped down, will be delivered on October 22.

The USKOK anti-corruption office accused Sanader that in his capacity as deputy foreign affairs minister, he accepted 3.6 million kuna (480,000 euro) as a commission from a bank, at the time when the war was raging in Croatia and the country was in a difficult situation, to facilitate a loan to Croatia for the purchase of buildings to house its diplomatic offices.

“I declare before the Croatian public that I am not a war profiteer,” Sanader said on Tuesday in his defence statement and added that the then government adopted the decision to take the loan and the then foreign minister, Mate Granić, signed the loan contract and received a letter setting out all the conditions of the loan.

Responding to accusations by the prosecution that he was authorised to negotiate with the bank, and that he received a commission to allow the bank to enter the Croatian banking market, Sanader said that that was in the remit of the minister and not the deputy minister.

At the time, the most favourable interest rate amounted to 18% while the interest rate on the loan issued to Croatia by the Hypo Bank was 10% less, Sanader said and asked why a bank would give someone a commission to offer a cheap loan. He claimed that the Hypo Bank was the only bank that was willing to give Croatia a loan and that it did so because of pressure from the then Austrian foreign minister, Alois Mock.

Sanader added that during the negotiations, the bank’s former president Wolfgang Kulterer told him that Eugen Laxa would be given a commission for that loan and that the case file showed that Laxa or someone identifying themselves as Laxa took the commission.

In a closing statement for the prosecution, it was said that the prosecution had proved that Sanader committed war profiteering and that in presenting his defence, he made his role seem less important than it was. The prosecution said that there was no doubt that Sanader had come to an agreement with Kulterer to be paid a commission and receive it in two instalments, as well as that Eugen Laxa would be named as the recipient to cover the true identity of the recipient.

That Laxa did not receive the commission was confirmed by a handwriting analysis showing that Laxa’s signatures on the payment slips weren’t authentic, the prosecution argued.

Sanader’s defence attorney Čedo Prodanović said the trial was full of doubts and that it was illogical for the bank to pay a commission for a loan to a country that was in a difficult financial position. He further argued that the prosecution had not respected a Constitutional Court ruling of 2014 that had abolished the conviction in the case and ordered a retrial.


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