ZAGREB, January 4, 2019 – The anti-corruption agency USKOK appealed on Friday against the Zagreb County Court ruling under which former prime minister Ivo Sanader was guilty of war profiteering because in war time he received kickbacks from Austria’s Hypo bank which gave Croatia a loan to purchase embassy buildings.
At the time, in his capacity as deputy foreign minister in charge of negotiations to secure a loan from Austria’s bank, Sanader had taken advantage of the state of war to make financial gain for himself.
“The defendant was found guilty and was sentenced to two and a half years in prison for war profiteering. USKOK believes the sentence is too lenient and the Zagreb County Court did not acknowledge aggravating circumstances to the extent it should have, while at the same time acknowledging mitigating circumstances,” USKOK said in a press release.
In the Hypo case, Sanader was accused of taking 3.6 million kuna in kickbacks when he was deputy foreign minister, after Austria’s Hypo bank gave Croatia a loan to buy diplomatic office buildings. At the time, Croatia was in the midst of war, so Sanader was also accused of war profiteering.
At the end of the trial, Sanader said he was not a war profiteer. The prosecution said the opposite, claiming in closing arguments that war profiteering had been proved and that he had been downplaying his role the whole time.
Sanader was already sentenced in this case, when he was also sentenced for taking a bribe from MOL director Zsolt Hernadi in exchange of management rights in INA. However, the Constitutional Court quashed the ruling in the Hypo case and requested a retrial.
The quashed sentence was the first sentence for war profiteering delivered after the Constitutional Court ruled that there was no statute of limitations on that crime. Quashing it, the Court said the Zagreb County Court and the Supreme Court did not establish if the statute of limitations had run out when Sanader was accused and that they failed to enforce a more lenient law.
More news on former prime minister Sanader can be found in our Politics section.