Mol to Fight Croat Arrest Warrant Against CEO Hernadi

Mol Nyrt., the Hungarian refiner battling to maintain control of its Zagreb-based subsidiary, said it would fight a Croatian arrest warrant against its chairman and chief executive officer, Zsolt Hernadi.

Hernadi can continue to lead the company even as the warrant may keep him from traveling abroad and be “inconvenient” for him as an individual, Mol said in a statement to the Budapest bourse today. It said it could deal with “all the operational issues under this challenging situation.”

Croatian police issued an arrest warrant against Hernadi yesterday in connection with a corruption investigation relating to Mol’s 2009 acquisition of INA Industrija Nafte d.d. Mol has denied any wrongdoing and the company said today an earlier Hungarian probe had found no evidence of misdeed.

“In the interest of the company and its employees Mol will defend itself by all legal means against the outrageous actions that have been taken against Mr. Hernadi and the company, which appear to be influenced by interests seeking to intimidate both the company and its chairman,” the company said today.

Mol shares dropped 0.3 percent to 15,945 forint by 9:27 a.m. in Budapest for a decline of 10 percent year-to-date.

The warrant for Hernadi comes as Croatia, the European Union’s newest member, has sought to re-assert control over INA since it passed into Mol’s management in a 2009 deal under former Prime Minister Ivo Sanader that a Croatian court ruled corrupt.

Mol Complaint

Mol owns 49.1 percent of the $7.3 billion company, and Croatia, which complains Mol runs INA as a subsidiary rather than an independent company, holds 44.84 percent.

The arrest warrant was issued after Hernadi failed to show up for a Sept. 25 meeting with the Office for Suppression of Corruption and Organized Crime, or USKOK, in Zagreb. Hungarian police said yesterday they hadn’t “officially received” a European arrest warrant against Hernadi.

“We question whether the procedures followed with regard to the claims made against Mol are compliant with established legal procedures elsewhere in Europe and internationally,” Mol said in its statement. “In our view, they are not compliant with the rule of law.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Zoltan Simon in Budapest at zsimon@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Balazs Penz at bpenz@bloomberg.net

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