Sberbank sends a firm warning to the Government of Croatia.
As Poslovni Dnevnik reports on the 19th of October, 2017, Sberbank’s Herman Gref stated for Russian television that the conduct of the Croatian government in the case of Agrokor, an insolvent group which falsified its financial statements for seven years, had severely violated creditor’s rights and noted that Agrokor’s debt to Sberbank was also discussed with President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović.
Gref said that Sberbank desires mutual understanding with the Croatian government on the subject of Agrokor’s enormous debt, but that the measures taken so far by the Croatian government, in Sberbank’s opinion, seriously jeopardise the creditor’s rights, both Sberbank’s rights and the rights of other creditors to the ailing company.
“Unfortunately, we’re all faced with the fact that for the last seven years the company has been lying financially and misleading its creditors,” Gref stated for Russian TV.
He also said that a ”constructive dialogue” on the subject of Agrokor’s debts took place on Wednesday in Sochi with President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović, who was on an official visit to Russia.
“We spoke constructively yesterday, the Croatian president reacted with understanding of the situation regarding Agrokor’s debt, and she’s interested in preserving and developing the investment climate in Croatia. On that basis, we agreed on the continuation of our talks in order to come to a mutually acceptable solution,” Gref added.
Gref pointed out that Sberbank would “see some of its funds returned from Agrokor in any case, regardless of how the situation develops”.
“Of course, we’d like the maximum return of our money,” Gref pointed out.
The Russian newspaper Kommersant writes that both Gref and Croatia’s Dinko Cvitan attended the meeting of Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović and her Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin on Wednesday in Sochi.
Gref, Kommersant writes, explained Sberbank’s position to the leaders of the two countries in the “Croatian Agrokor” dispute, and journalists later heard from Vladimir Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov.
“Croatia’s president stressed the importance of keeping a suitable investment climate for foreign companies, and thus creating pleasant business conditions for Sberbank and VTB,” Peskov said, as reported by the Russian news agency Tass.
Peskov added that the meeting was also attended by Dinko Cvitan and stated that Croatia is conducting investigative actions into Agrokor and that there are suspicions of illegality.
“In any case, as one of the main (Agrokor’s) creditors, Sberbank will protect its interests. Of course, the Russian state will support our companies,” Peskov said.
On Thursday in Moscow, President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović said that she would not want Agrokor to become a burden in the relations between Croatia and Russia and that she’s willing to mediate between Sberbank and the Croatian institutions that address the issues surrounding this topic.
“I’d love for this issue to refrain from becoming a burden on relations between Croatia and Russia, because it isn’t an intergovernmental issue,” Grabar-Kitarović stated.
“Of course, I’m not personally taking part in solving that question, so I can’t negotiate any modalities that will be solved, but I’m ready to mediate in whatever way I can in conversations between Sberbank and the authorised institutions that are dealing with it,” she noted.
She also added that Lex Agrokor’s (law) main objective was to ensure the stability of the economy and to work to prevent a domino effect.
As for the Croatian state’s involvement in this issue, Agrokor remains a private company, it hasn’t been nationalised and owing to that fact, the state cannot take responsibility, Grabar-Kitarović repeated. She also stressed that Agrokor’s debts must not in any way be permitted to fall onto the backs of Croatia’s taxpayers.
Translated from Poslovni.hr