Croatian Agrokor Probe May Uncover Privatisation Abuses

As a Croatian investigative parliamentary committee prepares to hear the first testimonies on how the country's biggest private company, Agrokor, was created, many irregularities from the privatisation processes of the 1990s are expected to be revealed.

Under pressure from the opposition Social Democratic Party, SDP, the committee was set up to investigate how Agrokor became such a massive company, as well as the events that led to parliament adopting a special law placing the indebted company under state management.

At the first session on Friday, former Prime Minister and President Stjepan Mesic will testify, while another former Prime Minister Josip Manolic will testify on Tuesday.

Manolic, the former senior Yugoslav secret service official, played an important prole in setting up Croatia's own secret service in the 1990s.

Ivan Penic and Milan Kovac, senior officials in the ruling Croatian Democratic Union, HDZ, during the 1990s, will also testify on Tuesday.

Dario Jurican, a film director who made an investigative documentary about Agrokor and its owner and founder Ivica Todoric, called "Gazda" ["The Boss"], told BIRN that the "purpose of the committee is not just Agrokor but to expose the mechanics of privatisation".

He said that each of the persons summoned to testify before the committee "holds a piece of the puzzle" in the murky privatisation process of the 1990s.

"These were people in high office at the time, and they precisely know how the mechanism of privatisation functioned and how the big companies got into hands of big Croatian tycoons," he said.

A Law on Transformation of Social Enterprises was passed at the beginning of the war of independence in 1991.

Under this law, socially and state-owned...

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