Probe into wind park corruption case involving former minister Zalac expanded

NEWS 26.04.2021 19:46
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Source: Dalibor Urukalovic/PIXSELL

The USKOK anti-corruption office on Monday expanded the investigation in the "wind park" scandal against former state-secretary and Knin mayor Josipa Rimac, former minister Gabrijela Zalac and another six suspects for bribery, influence peddling and abuse of office and powers.

This is the third expansion of the investigation and includes former assistant minister of environment and energy, Domagoj Validzic, president of the management board of the Croatian Transmission System Operator (HOPS), Tomislav Plavsic, and acting head of the State Administration Office in Sibenik-Knin County, Edita Grubisic.

The prosecution expanded the investigation for the third time after the PNUSKOK police anti-corruption office in Osijek supplemented the criminal report from 29 May 2020 following the completion of the criminal investigation, the Police Directorate said.

The prosecution said in the press release that it suspected that from November 2017 to 29 May 2020, in accordance with an earlier agreement with entrepreneurs Milenko Basic and Dragan Stipic, Rimac had curried favour for their company C.E.M.P for the purpose of obtaining an undue advantage for a monthly award of HRK 40,000.

According to USKOK, Rimac used her position as state-secretary at the Ministry of Public Administration, as well as the social influence she had gained through her many years as Knin mayor and member of the Croatian parliament.

Rimac and Zalac used political authority for illegalities

USKOK said that in order to have a loan from the Croatian Bank for Reconstruction and Development (HBOR) approved, Rimac had, together with Zalac, who also used her authority as a minister and member of HBOR Supervisory Board, asked other members of the board for support and consent so that a loan for a wind park would be granted to Bašić and Stipic’s company regardless of the fulfillment of conditions.

Rimac and Zalac, USKOK added, asked the HBOR Management Board Chair, Tamara Perko, to grant a €130 million loan to Basic and Stipic’s company, to reduce the required loan security instruments and to draw up a letter of intent in which the HBOR would untruthfully tell the wind turbine supplier, prior to the decision to grant the loan, that the loan would be granted, which Perko refused to do.

The prosecution added that Zalac herself had also often contacted members of the HBOR Supervisory Board and asked them for support in granting the loan, despite the fact that they had not yet been provided with any information on the project.

At Basic and Stipic’s request, Rimac often contacted the management board chair of Hrvatska Postanska Banka (HPB) and requested the approval of a loan of at least €30 million for C.E.M.P. regardless of the fulfillment of conditions and asked that the bank not insist on the delivery of the necessary documentation, that the security instruments be reduced and the loan be realised as soon as possible.

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