| CroatiaApartments

Croatian ex-PM jailed for 10 years for taking bribes

Nov 20th 2012 at 4:52 AM

PanARMENIAN.Net - A court in Croatia has sentenced former Prime Minister Ivo Sanader to 10 years in prison for taking bribes, in a case closely watched by the EU, BBC News reported.

Sanader, in office from 2003 to 2009, was convicted of taking millions of dollars in bribes from a Hungarian energy company and an Austrian bank.

The former prime minister denied wrongdoing at his trial.

Croatia, which hopes to join the EU in July of next year, is under pressure to tackle widespread corruption.

Sanader, 59, is the most senior official to have been convicted of corruption in Croatia. He was found guilty of accepting a bribe of $12.8m from the Hungarian oil company MOL in return for securing it controlling rights in Croatia's state oil company Ina.

Unless the Nov 20 verdict is overturned on appeal, Croatia may review MOL's shareholder agreement with Ina.

In 1995, when Sanader was a deputy foreign minister, he received $695,000 in bribes for a credit deal with the Hypo Alpe Adria Group, which gave the Austrian bank a leading position in Croatia. At the time, Croatia was still fighting its war of independence from Yugoslavia, meaning it had trouble accessing the international markets.

Prosecutors described Sanader's action as "war profiteering". Sanader argued that the case against him was politically motivated.

He is also on trial, separately, for allegedly creating slush funds for his political party, the conservative Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ), by skimming off profits from state companies and manipulating public tenders.

The HDZ ruled the country for eight years until its defeat in elections in December 2011.

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