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Graft Verdict May Help Croatia Change INA Contract With Mol

Nov. 21 (Bloomberg) -- A corruption verdict against Croatia’s former prime minister Ivo Sanader may help the nation change a shareholding agreement with Mol Nyrt. related to INA Industrija Nafte d.d., Finance Minister Slavko Linic said.

A district court in Zagreb yesterday found Sanader guilty of bribery and abuse of power involving Hungarian refiner Mol Nyrt. and Austria’s Hypo Alpe-Adria-Bank International AG. Sanader, who was sentenced to 10 years in jail, said through his lawyer he will appeal the verdict.

Mol, which owns 49.1 percent of INA, won control of the company in a 2009 shareholding agreement that Judge Ivan Turudic yesterday described as the product of corruption. Croatia, which holds 44.84 percent of the Zagreb-based refiner, has tried in the past two years to increase its influence in the company.

“I believe this verdict will really help Mol realize that the government is firm in insisting on changes in the shareholding agreement and that there is no need to lose time waiting for the binding verdict,” Linic told state radio today.

The ruling in Sanader’s case contained “factual misconceptions” related to Mol and there was no “substantive evidence” supporting the bribery charges, Mol said in a statement today.

“We would query whether the procedures followed with regard to the claims made against Mol would be considered compatible with established legal procedures elsewhere in Europe,” the company said, adding that it may take international legal action.

Linic also said negotiations between the government and Budapest-based Mol are under way, adding they are “not easy.”

Mol said in a statement on its website after the verdict that it “categorically rejects” the accusations, which were formed as part of a “political case” and were lacking evidence, crime or motive.

To contact the reporter on this story: Jasmina Kuzmanovic in Zagreb at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: James M. Gomez at

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