18:48 / 29.03.2023.

Author: Domagoj Ferenčić

Court rules that keystone evidence in the Agrokor case is inadmissible

Ivica Todorić

Ivica Todorić

Foto: Matija Habljak / PIXSELL

The Agrokor Group had annual sales revenue of €6.465 billion in 2015, which made it the second largest retail and eleventh largest overall company in all of Southeast Europe, employing more than fifty thousand people. In 2019 Agrokor's assets were consolidated within the newly founded Fortenova Group.

The report compiled by forensic financial analyst Ismet Kamal, which represents the keystone of the indictment against Ivica Todorić and others for allegedly extracting 1.2 billion Kuna, roughly 160 million euros, from the Agrokor Group, has been deemed as inadmissible by the Indictment Panel of the Zagreb County Court. The merits of the indictment have been disputed since 2021, with today's finding costing tax-payers more than 1.1 million euros. The defendants' defense has argued from the outset of the so-called "Big Agrokor" case that the report was inadmissible. Todorić, the founder and CEO of the now defunct Agrokor Group, has welcomed the news, and triumphantly announced his decision to enter into Croatian politics: “This is a magnificent victory. This is a political process mounted by Prime Minister Andrej Plenković and his gang. Now it has been blocked. They think they're going to be able to buy some time now through appeals. But they can't buy any more time and they won't file any more appeals. A series of other processes will begin in Croatia in the wake of these events here today. Yes, obviously I'm going into politics, and I am convinced that even running alone, I can beat the HDZ.”

Media are speculating that the processes he was referring to could have to do with reports he filed against the Chief State Prosecutor Zlata Hrvoj Šipek and prosecutor Sani Ljubičić: “I have filed criminal charges. They tried to push through an inadmissible document and an illegal process through the courts. How are they not ashamed of themselves? They should have tendered their resignations immediately,” Todorić said.

Todorić's lawyer Frano Olujić added that the ruling confirms the defense’s assertions from the outset of the case: “The person entrusted with forensic analysis, which in this case is KPMG Poland, which has ties with KPMG Croatia, and we know that that they worked for both for Mr. Todorić and Agrokor's subsequent emergency management. And through this it has become evident that the analysis was actually conducted by KPMG Croatia.”

The State Prosecutor's Office has announced an appeal against the decision, which will be addressed by the High Criminal Court. Today's ruling comes the heels of a decision issued by the Supreme Court in February, upholding the ruling of the Zagreb County Court and rejecting an appeal from the State Prosecutor’s Office in the so-called "Small Agrokor" case, acquitting Todorić and his associates of charges of malfeasance that allegedly cost the concern some one million and 250 thousand euros.

Agrokor was Croatia's largest privately owned company, the country's largest employer, one of the biggest food goods and retail chains in southeast Europe and owned the most agricultural land in Croatia. However, under claims that Todorić, the company's founder, and his team had brought Agrokor to the brink of collapse, Prime Minister Andrej Plenković and his government pushed emergency legislation through parliament allowing government to assume control over the company. This ultimately resulted in Agrokor and its assets being sold off to foreign interests.

Source: HRT

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