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Croatian Court sentence Ex-Prime Minister to 6 Years in Prison; Hungarian CEO gets Two

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History was made when a Court in Zagreb made a ruling to sentence the former Prime Minister of Croatia to 6 years in prison. This came as a shock to the Ex-PM Ivo Sanader who was accused of several crimes related to corruption and cases that dragged in the court for several decades. The Reuters also reported that the Hungarian energy group MOL was given a lighter sentence of two years in the same case.

In 2012, Sanander was slapped with a jail sentence after being accused of obtaining US$ 11 million (10 million euros) from Zsolt Hernadi acting on behalf of MOL. The money was given as a bribe to give exclusive rights to MOL to enable them to make crucial decisions in the Croatia oil and gas company INA. The highest shareholder of INA is MOL while the government of Croatia comes second. This makes the two major influencers of the policies in the company, and this could have played a role in their involvement in the corruption scandals. The ruling made in 2012 was later overturned after a successful appeal in the constitutional court of Croatia. The court ordered a retrial and hearing of the case again.

During the recent sentence, the two accused were not present in the court. The sentencing was made in their absence. Sanader was not able to attend since he is serving a sentence for another corruption case. On the other hand, Hernadi cannot travel out of Hungary after Croatia obtained an international warrant of arrest; nevertheless, Budapest has dismissed this idea. The two have an opportunity to appeal the ruling.    

Reuters reported that MOL was dissatisfied with the ruling when they expressed their disappointment with the sentencing of a person who was only acting on behalf of the company. Subsequently, they stated the board will offer full support to Hernadi since the Hungary government investigated the case and found that there were no wrongdoings. This conclusion was backed by the report of the United Nations’ tribunal that stated that the MOL company officer acting on behalf of the company. The MOL board feels that these two assumptions were enough to stop the proceeding of the case against the two. Their sentencing was, thus viewed as unfair despite the provision of room to appeal.

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Sanader is not new to scandals and criminal activities brought against him. He is accused of other crimes in Croatia, including the accusation that he benefited one of the worst conflicts between Croatia, Serbia, and Bosnia. During these confrontations, many people lost life, and thus he is accused of taking advantage of the situation to benefit himself. Sanader is also accused of a graft that leads to a loss of $12 million meant for the party Slush fund. During this scandal, a company called “Fimi media” was used to siphon the money. This sentencing has led to a discussion on the success of the war on corruption, especially on the cases implicating high profile individuals. Only time will tell whether the war has been won or not as anti-corruption authorities intensify their action against the former prime minister.  

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