The unusual choice of words by Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic came after the Supervisory Board of the Croatian oil company INA took note of the resignation of the Hungarian members of the Board of Directors of INA, and at the request of the Croatian government recalled the Croatian members and appointed a new board.
Péter Ratatics has been elected as the new chairman of the board, while Berislav Gas and Krisztián Pulay have been appointed as members of the board of directors, on the proposal of Mol, with a mandate until 30 June 2023.
At a press conference on Wednesday afternoon, Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic said that as soon as external auditors are selected, negotiations with the Hungarian side on the change of the company’s governance will continue. “After all, INA is our company, it is here in Croatia and it is important for us in the energy crisis,” he stressed.
He expressed his dissatisfaction that in the biggest energy crisis, at a time of huge increases in the price of gas and consequently electricity, someone who is in charge of selling gas on behalf of INA and is paid for it is committing a crime and no one notices. “This has caused enormous damage to the company’s reputation,” he said.
He added that in addition to INA, Mol’s shareholders had also suffered damage, and that in the past month the case had caused political damage to the Croatian government, much more than to Mol, he said.
The Croatian Prosecutor’s Office against Corruption and Organised Crime arrested five people on 27 August for abuses related to gas trading, including Damir Skugor, director of INA’s natural gas trading branch. They are accused of damaging the Croatian oil company with just over one billion kunas (132 mil. euros), taking advantage of the global crisis and the continuous increase in gas prices on the world market.
Mol owns 49.08 percent of INA, and the Hungarian oil company also has controlling rights in the company. The Croatian state owns 44.84 percent of the company thus Plenkovic’s words can only be interpreted as a sign of continues frustration over the 2003 sale of the Croatian energy giant’s controlling stake to the Hungarian company MOL. Subsequent Croatian governments have unsuccessfully tried to overturn the sale through courts, and even sentenced the MOL chief Zsolt Hernádi to prison sentence in absentia. However, in July this year MOL has won an arbitration case against Croatia in a nearly nine-year trial before the International Center for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) in Washington, D.C. The verdict awarded MOL a total of about 236 million dollars.
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