Croatia’s supreme court on Monday upheld a Zagreb court’s prison sentence for Zsolt Hernádi, the chairman-CEO of Hungarian oil and gas company MOL, and former Croatian prime minister Ivo Sanader, the local press reported.
In December 2019, the Zagreb County Court sentenced Hernádi to two years in prison for graft. He was charged in absentia with bribing Sanader a decade earlier to give MOL management rights in Croatian peer INA. Sanader was handed a six-year prison sentence. In its Monday ruling, the supreme court dismissed the appeals filed by Hernádi and Sanader’s defence teams as well as the appeal by the prosecution for harsher sentences, the daily Jutarnji List said. In its justification, the court said Sanader had agreed with Hernádi that MOL would be given management rights in INA for a bribe of 10 million euros. MOL and Hernádi have steadfastly denied the charges, insisting that the company had never bribed any politician. Hernádi was earlier acquitted of the charge by the Hungarian judiciary.
MOL holds just under half of INA’s shares but exercises management rights in the company. MOL has long been at odds with the Croatian government, the other big stakeholder in INA, over investments at the company. The Croatian government has said it is interested in buying out MOL from INA.
In a statement issued on Monday, MOL voiced disappointment with the court’s decision. The company noted that Hungarian authorities as well as an international arbitration court earlier established that neither MOL nor its executives had committed any crime. Because of “serious injustices” experienced in the course of Croatian procedures, Hernádi will appeal to Croatia’s Constitutional Court, MOL said.