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Hungary Rejects Croat Arrest Warrant Against Mol’s CEO

A Hungarian court rejected a Croatian arrest warrant against Mol Nyrt. Chairman Zsolt Hernadi that was issued after he failed to testify in a corruption probe of how Mol gained control of its Croatian unit.

The Budapest Metropolitan Court rejected the warrant because Hungarian prosecutors already conducted an investigation in the same matter and found no evidence of criminal wrongdoing, Budapest Chief Prosecutor Tibor Ibolya said in an e-mailed statement today.

“The Metropolitan Court, agreeing with the prosecution, rejected executing the European arrest warrant and the handing over of Zsolt Hernadi,” Ibolya said.

Croatia is investigating the contract that gave Mol management control over INA Industrija Nafte d.d. after a Zagreb court ruled former Premier Ivo Sanader received a bribe from Mol in the 2009 deal and sentenced him to 10 years in prison. Sanader is appealing. Mol has denied any wrongdoing.

Mol shares dropped 0.8 percent to 15,330 forint by 4:08 p.m. in Budapest, extending its decline to 4.2 percent since Croatian police announced issuing the arrest warrant against Hernadi on Oct. 1. INA shared dropped 7.3 percent in the same period.

Croatia is applying “non-economic” methods to intimidate Mol, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban said Oct. 4. The Zagreb-based government should consider settling the dispute by buying out Mol’s INA stake and abandon the legal case against Mol, Orban said.

Croatia’s judiciary is independent and the government “cannot negotiate over” Hernadi’s arrest, Croatian Prime Minister Zoran Milanovic said the same day.

Mol owns 49.1 percent of INA and has management rights in the company. Croatia’s government, which complains that Mol runs INA as a subsidiary rather than an independent company, holds 44.84 percent. Hungary’s government is Mol’s biggest shareholder with a 25 percent stake.

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