It seems that taking bribes is not an obstacle for being a member of some of the most important state institutions.
The Provincial Court in Klagenfurt in Austria is currently undertaking legal proceedings against former head of Hypo Alpe Adria Bank Josef Kircher for embezzlement of 1.7 million euros. The case is important for Croatia as well, since during the investigation it was found that some of the money, 630,000 euros, was paid as a bribe to several Croatian politicians. One of them is a member of the State Election Commission Josip Vresk, reports Index.hr on August 16, 2016.
Croatian Radio Television has published translation of his statement in which he admitted to the Austrian police in 2014 that he did indeed take the bribe. Among other things, Vresk confirmed that, from the end of 2006 to May 2007 he received from Alex Kropiunig three cash payments of 70,000 euros each.
“All in all, I have received from Alex Kropiunig a total of 210,000 euros. I do not remember the exact time and place of when and where I have received the money. During some of the handovers of money, Danijel Ropuš and Davorin Mlakar were also present”, said Vresk when asked by the judge to explain what happen.
Davorin Mlakar (HDZ) is a former Administration Minister and several months ago he was proposed by his party and ultimately appointed as a member of the Constitutional Court. Josip Vresk (HSS) is a former Deputy Interior Minister, while Ropuš was a HSS official in Lika-Senj County.
When asked whether Danijel Ropuš and Davorin Mlakar also received money from Alex Kropiunig, Vresk answered that on at least one occasion he saw that Kropiunig gave money in an envelope to Ropuš and Mlakar. “I do not remember the time or the place”, he added.
However, Vresk now says that he confessed to receiving the bribe under pressure. He was questioned by Austrian police in 2014. The reported bribe-taking occurred after Vresk became a member of the State Election Commission. He took the oath of office in March 2007, and the police report shows that the money was received in June and July of same year. He admitted that he influenced the Croatian National Bank to give approval for the sale of the Hypo Bank to BLB Bank during the summer of 2007.
After the initial rejection of application, the Croatian National Bank in early October 2007 gave its approval for the sale of Hypo Bank to the BLB Bank. In a testimony before the commission investigating Hypo Bank in 2014, Vresk said that he offered contacts at the top of the Croatian judiciary. Upon entering the bank headquarters, he falsely identified himself as Darko Videš.