The founder of the Agrokor food and retail group, Ivica Todoric, is due to appear before a high court in London on Thursday in a last-ditch attempt to avoid being extradited to Croatia to face allegations of fraud.
In July, London's Westminster Magistrates Court overturned his appeal against a first-instance ruling in April under which he was to be extradited to Croatia. After his appeal was rejected, the court granted Todoric one more chance to be heard, and a hearing has been scheduled for September 6. If he fails to convince the court of his case, the April extradition ruling becomes final.
On April 23, Magistrate Emma Arbuthnot approved Todoric's extradition, dismissing Todoric's defence laywer's claims that the fraud investigation against him in Croatia was in fact a case of political persecution.
"I accept that the Agrokor affair has a political dimension as it represents 15 percent of the GDP of Croatia, but the prosecution is based on the evidence uncovered, and is not being pursued because of political pressure," she said.
After the Agrokor debt crisis broke out in early 2017, Todoric - at the time the company's CEO and owner - fled to London, where he was arrested in November 2017 on a European arrest warrant issued by Croatia.
He was then released on bail, but had to hand over his passport, and was ordered to wear an electronic tag and report to police three times a week. Todoric said then that he would use every legal means available in the United Kingdom to avoid extradition to Croatia.
Todoric, his two sons, and 12 other Agrokor executives and auditors are under investigation by Croatia's organised crime police Uskok, suspected of fraud totalling 1.14 billion kuna (€154 million).
(€1 = 7.42 kuna)