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Croatia has sought to overturn an earlier arbitration court ruling in the MOL-INA case that there was no corruption in the acquisition of INA.
On Wednesday, the Swiss Supreme Court rejected Croatia’s request to overturn an unfavorable ruling to Zagreb by the Geneva-based International Trade Law Commission (UNCITRAL) in the corruption case of former Croatian Prime Minister, Ivo Sanader.
Sanader was accused by the Croatian state of helping Hungarian oil company MOL gain a controlling stake in INA through corruption, failing to make investments in Croatian oil refineries that the Hungarian oil company had committed to in its shareholder agreement, allegedly violating Croatian laws on commercial companies.
MOL has always denied the allegations. The Geneva arbitration court eventually dismissed all Croatian claims related to bribery, corporate governance, and alleged violations of the 2003 shareholders’ agreement.
This decision was overturned by the Croatian government in December 2021, as it was felt that the recent Croatian Supreme Court ruling on corruption meant that the agreements between MOL and the Croatian state over INA could not be upheld, and therefore efforts to buy MOL out of INA were also suspended.
According to the Swiss court, it is clear from the award and the criminal decisions of the Croatian judicial authorities that there are disagreements, which essentially relate to the different assessment of the testimonies of several participants, and in particular Robert Jezic. “Because it appears that the Croatian courts, unlike the Arbitral Tribunal, considered Robert Jezic a credible witness.”
The Arbitral Tribunal had given due weight to the criminal proceedings conducted by the Croatian authorities, but had based its decision on the evidence it had collected.
“Therefore, we cannot accept the claimant’s categorical assertion that the July 7, 2021 judgment of the Supreme Court of the Republic of Croatia is sufficient evidence for the tribunal to find that the agreements between MOL and the Croatian state were corrupt,” they wrote.
MOL acquired a 25 percent stake plus one share in the Croatian oil company in 2003 as part of the privatization of INA, and in 2009 signed an agreement with the Croatian government under which the Hungarian oil company acquired controlling rights in INA and took over the Croatian company’s gas business. MOL currently holds 49.08 percent of INA, and the Hungarian oil company also has controlling rights in the company. The Croatian state has a 44.84 percent stake in the company.
On Wednesday, MOL published information on the website of the Budapest Stock Exchange that
the Swiss Federal Court rejected Croatia’s appeal request and awarded 250,000 Swiss francs in favor of MOL.
The Hungarian oil company recalled that Croatia had initiated a review of the 2016 UNCITRAL ruling in the arbitration case brought by Croatia against MOL. That ruling rejected Croatia’s corruption allegations and found that INA’s corporate governance system was lawful and that the oil company had fulfilled its contractual obligations, the statement said.
As Hungary Today previously reported, MOL also won a case against Croatia in a nearly nine-year trial before the International Center for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) in Washington, D.C. The court ruled that the company’s corporate governance system was legitimate and that it had fulfilled its contractual obligations. The ruling awarded MOL damages of about $236 million, including interest.
Featured Photo: INA Facebook
Article originally published on our sister site, Ungarn Heute.