ZAGREB, March 20, 2019 – Regional Development and EU Funds Minister Gabrijela Žalac said on Wednesday the luxury Mercedes E parked in the yard of her family house was not hers but belongs to her parents.
“When I buy a car, of course I’ll state it in my declaration of assets,” the minister told reporters, adding that the car was in her yard as her “brother brought his car to my mom’s because he has nowhere to park it.”
“My parents bought that car two months ago,” Žalac said, then corrected herself by saying that “it’s rented on a lease contract and when it’s paid off, it will probably be bought.”
She confirmed that she knows Josip Stojanović, the owner of a company leasing luxury cars which owns the car in question, whose daily lease is 1,200 kuna, but denied that the acquaintance was used so her parents could buy the car.
Jutarnji List daily says in its latest edition that Žalac did not report the luxury Mercedes E, worth at least 50,000 euro, in her declaration of assets, and that neighbours say it has been parked in the yard of her family house in Vinkovci for quite some time.
In her declaration of assets, the minister reported only her husband’s Mercedes C180 worth 24,000 kuna.
Žalac would not say if she would resign if she was charged for a recent accident in which she hit and injured a little girl with her car while driving with an expired licence.
She questioned reporters why would she list something in her declaration of assets that she did not own and promised that she would present the car rental agreement, “exactly everything, my parents’ income.”
“I truly do not understand why all this. Why would I drag my parents into this when the media are attacking me? My neighbour’s car could have been parked there,” Žalac said. “You (media) said such a quantity of lies since last Saturday. If I were to deny everything you have been saying every day, that would go on for ever. You will be given everything to inspect. I am not hiding anything,” she said.
She claimed that her only sin is that her driver’s licence had expired, referring to a recent accident in Vinkovci when she hit a 10-year old girl with her car, who ran out onto the street, underscoring that she has paid the fine envisaged for driving with an expired licence.
Social Democratic Party (SDP) MP Peđa Grbin on Wednesday called out Minister of Regional Development and EU Funds Gabrijela Žalac because she did not clearly explain what money was being used to pay for the lease of a luxurious Mercedes parked in her driveway.
Grbin added that Žalac did not explain what her relationship was with Josip Stojanović Jolly, a car dealer who in fact owns the Mercedes, and that she should step down.
“The daily rental for that vehicle is more than 1,200 kuna, or 36,000 kuna a month, which is twice the minister’s wage and, as a state official who won the trust of citizens, she is expected to provide a clear explanation,” Grbin said in parliament.
He added that Minister Žalac should not be using her parents as an excuse and her relationship with the vehicle’s owner and needs to clearly state how she got that vehicle.
The MOST party’s political secretary Nikola Grmoja said that Minister Žalac was not convincing when she tried to explain why the luxurious Mercedes with Zagreb registration plates was parked in her driveway. “The minister appeared confused, she changed her story,” Grmoja told reporters in parliament.
More news about the minister can be found in the Politics section.