Croatian deputy PM resigns over email controversy

14 May 2018, 21:46

  DF-Xinhua Report

Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic arrives on the first day of the two-day EU Summit in Brussels, Belgium.Photo (Xinhua/Ye Pingfan) (psw)

Croatian deputy prime minister and economy minister Martina Dalic resigned on Monday, days after her email correspondence with those relevant to a law designed to salvage the country's biggest private company was revealed.

Dalic announced her resignation on Monday in a joint news conference held by her and Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic.

"I did nothing wrong, immoral, or illegal. But the perception is such and I do not want to be a burden to the prime minister and the Croatian government," Dalic said.

On Wednesday, Croatian news portal Index published email correspondence between Dalic and people who participated in the adoption of the Agrokor law, and were later engaged and highly paid in the process of stabilizing the debt-ridden company.

Dalic's correspondence with lawyers and consultants, who were involved in the government's restructuring process of Agrokor, shows she had been sending them confidential data regarding the state of the company before they were hired. The letters did not go through the economy ministry's official email service, and it is not known how the emails came to light. 

"We have achieved a strategic goal and stabilized the largest Croatian company...I regret that there was not more time and transparency in the whole process," said Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic, who accepted Dalic's resignation.

Employing about 60,000 people in Croatia and the region, private food and retail group Agrokor is the country's biggest company. Its revenue reached 6.5 billion euros (7.66 billion U.S. dollars) in 2015. However, things went wrong when it was discovered early last year that the company was in huge debt, when the government reacted with the special law dubbed "Lex Agrokor" that enabled the state to take over the management of the company.

The Constitutional Court of Croatia last week decided that the adoption Lex Agrokor -- the law on extraordinary administration procedure in companies of systematic importance for Croatia -- was not in contravention of the Croatian Constitution. 

Agrokor's creditors' agreement should be reached by July 10, and by then the State Prosecution should investigate whether there were any criminal offenses when adopting and implementing the Agrokor law.

The company's founder and owner, Ivica Todoric, who is suspected of corruption and fraud by the Croatian authority, is awaiting a London court's decision on a complaint he filed after the judge decided on April 23 there was no obstacle to his extradition.