State Assets Minister: I Did Not Obtain Any Gain in Church Renovation

Total Croatia News

ZAGREB, July 6, 2019 – State Assets Minister Goran Marić said on Friday, with regard to his role in the renovation of a church in a Zagreb parish, that except for satisfaction with helping realise a noble idea, he did not obtain any gain nor did he enable anyone else to obtain any gain and did not do anything that would be contrary to the highest ethical standards.

The State Assets Minister issued a press release saying that it was true that at the time when the renovation of the church, located in the parish of Our Lady of Lourdes in Zagreb, was discussed, he was an office-holder and member of parliament but that at the meeting on the church’s renovation he acted “exclusively as a parishioner.”

“The meeting discussed designs for the renovation of the church and I did not directly participate in the discussions,” Marić says, stressing that he also never attended talks on the financing of the renovation work, except giving symbolic financial contributions on a number of occasions, as did many other parishioners.

“It is true that I took part in talks with the then head of the Franciscan order regarding designs for the renovation of a monastery so that it could be used for the accommodation of students whose financial standing was poor. I considered that idea as something of great human and social value. I responded to it and was willing to personally help implement it,” the minister claims.

He says that the Franciscan order owned a dilapidated apartment in downtown Zagreb that could not be sold due to the situation on the market at the time and that it was true that “the Scientia d.o.o. company bought the apartment and paid for it in full, which enabled the renovation.”

“I stress that I participated financially in this project as well, in line with my finances. I especially emphasise that apart from human satisfaction at being able to help implement a noble idea, I did not obtain any gain nor did I make it possible for anyone else. Also, as an office-holder, I did not do anything that would go against the highest ethical standards,” Maric says in the statement.

The news portal Index has reported that in March 2008, a meeting was held at which the renovation of the Franciscan Monastery of Our Lady of Lourdes was discussed and which was attended by the then prime minister Ivo Sanader, government ministers Marina Dropulić, Dragan Primorac and Božo Biškupić, and Mladen Barišić, a secretary at the Finance Ministry.

The meeting, held at the monastery, was also attended by Zagreb Mayor Milan Bandić, while the Franciscan order was represented by its head, Friar Željko Tolić, the head of the Franciscan monastery, Friar Frano Doljanik, and Goran Marić, at the time a member of parliament.

Index, which has published a number of articles analysing this case, cited Tolić as confirming that “Marić enabled the renovation of nine apartments and a kitchen for the Franciscan dormitory in Zagreb” and that the Franciscan order sold Marić its apartment in Zagreb’s Zvonimirova Street in return.

“An agreement was reached and a contract signed with Mr Marić under which the order transferred a dilapidated and unlivable apartment in Zvonimirova Street to Marić in exchange for a financial compensation while he renovated nine apartments and a kitchen for humanitarian purposes for the order, to be used by the poor, namely destitute civilian students,” the news portal quoted Tolić as saying.

The Marić family owned a company, called Scientia, specialising in professional, scientific and technical services, which was run by Marić’s wife Marijana and which in 2011 reported a revenue of 50,000 kuna and a loss of 84,000 kuna.

According to Index, under the contract, Scientia bought the 101-square-metre apartment in Zvonimirova Street for 930,000 kuna (roughly 125,600 euros).

“The sales contract for the apartment, even though it was signed in mid-2011, went into force a year later, in 2012. Already in 2013, Scientia and its apartment in Zvonimirova Street were taken over by Marić’s friend, businessman Zvonko Šarić. Even though Scientia had an apartment worth at least one million kuna and an additional 867,000 kuna in its account, the Marić couple transferred it to Šarić without any compensation. They literally gave it away,” the portal says.

Four months later, Šarić sold the apartment in Zvonimirova Street for one million kuna to Šted Invest, a company where Marić was a director in the period from 2005 to 2008, when he withdrew because he entered the parliament as a deputy of the HDZ party, Index says.

It stresses that Marić’s son Ante recently moved into a newly-built, 136-square-metre apartment in Zagreb’s Veslačka Street, worth around 2.5 million kuna. The owner of that apartment, according to land books, is Veslačka Nekretnine, the daughter company of Šted Invest.

In an earlier comment on this, Minister Marić said that his son was a tenant in that apartment and that there was no conflict of interest in that case.

More news about the State Assets Minister can be found in the Politics section.


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