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Bribery verdicts upheld for Croatian ex-PM, Hungarian CEO

MOL, backed by the Hungarian government, has a 49% stake in INA

25 October, 18:33
(ANSA-AFP) - ZAGREB, OCT 25 - Croatia's top court said Monday it had upheld verdicts against ex-prime minister Ivo Sanader and the boss of Hungary's energy giant MOL in a sprawling corruption case that has marred bilateral relations for years. The country's Supreme Court upheld the 2019 verdict that found Sanader and MOL's chairman and CEO Zsolt Hernadi guilty of bribery. According to the verdict, Hernadi arranged bribe payments of 10 million euros ($12 million) to Sanader to increase MOL's control over Croatian oil and gas company INA.

Sanader was already in jail over a separate conviction when he was given a six-year sentence in the bribery trial, while Hernadi received a two-year sentence, in absentia. Sanader oversaw the payments while serving as prime minister, which "gives the corrupt criminal act additional weight", the Supreme Court said in a filing. The former prime minister "should have been a role model not only to other members of the cabinet but also to all Croatian citizens," the court added. MOL, which is backed by the Hungarian government, has a 49 percent stake in INA, while Zagreb holds 44 percent. Croatia has unsuccessfully sought the MOL executive's arrest for years, but Hungary has refused to extradite him. The dispute has soured bilateral ties since the 2019 verdict. Sanader, the conservative HDZ party's prime minis (ANSA-AFP).

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