Croatian Interior Minister Ranko Ostojic has said that Croatia has sent notes to Austria and Germany following media reports that MOL CEO Zsolt Hernadi was on an official trip to Vienna earlier this week and that Austrian authorities did nothing despite the fact that an Interpol warrant for his arrest is still valid.
“We have sent a note in which we request an explanation of how that is possible. The arrest warrant must be complied with,” Minister Ostojic told the press in the refugee reception centre in Opatovac, east Croatia, on Thursday.
In mid-February this year, Interpol re-issued an international warrant for the arrest of the Hungarian oil and gas company’s CEO Hernadi, who is wanted in Croatia on charges of bribes he had allegedly given to former Croatian Prime Minister Ivo Sanader.
On Wednesday evening, MOL said in its response to Hina’s queries that Hernadi had travelled to Vienna for business purposes and that he had held talks with OMV Board Chairman Reiner Seele.
In its response, the Hungarian company said that they would not comment on legal issues, only confirming that Hernadi had been in Austria legally and that he had visited Germany on several occasions in the past months.
Interpol has published the arrest warrant for Hernadi, charged with having given 10 million euros in bribes to Sanader in return for MOL’s greater management rights in its Croatian peer INA.
The first arrest warrant for Hernadi was released by Interpol in October 2013, after Sanader was given a sentence of eight years and six months for wrongdoing in the INA and Hypo Bank corruption cases. The warrant was withdrawn in February 2014, following the Hungarian executive’s complaint, only to be reactivated earlier this year.
In the meantime, the Croatian Constitutional Court quashed the said verdict and ordered a retrial.
The Zagreb County Court was set to have commenced the trial of Hernadi in his absence but the trial was postponed for procedural reasons. After the launch of the investigation into Hernadi, the Croatian prosecution authorities asked the relevant Hungarian agencies to question him or to serve him with the summons, but the Hungarian authorities repeatedly turned down Croatia’s requests, citing national security.
Croatia therefore decided to order detention for Hernadi, who is beyond its reach, and to try him in his absence.