Croatia: Another One Bites The Dust!

Slavko Linic - now the former Finance Minister  Photo: HINA

Slavko Linic – now the former Finance Minister
Photo: HINA

Croatia’s Prime Minister Zoran Milanovic has Tuesday 6 May sacked the Finance Minister Slavko Linic, saying that “clean hands” were the most important thing in his cabinet. Linic made front-page news on Monday 5 May after daily Jutarnji list revealed that he cost the Croatian taxpayer 27 million kuna (3.5 millon EUR) after he personally wrote off tax debts for the land, which was more than five times over-valued. In March of this year revelations surfaced that the land in question was valued at 6 million kuna (830,000 EUR), not 33.6 million kuna (4.4 million EUR) as the bankruptcy settlement had valued it.

The anti-corruption office USKOK has become involved in the case, asking the Finance Ministry to urgently submit to it all documents regarding the purchase of land.

“Minister Linic bears a political responsibility for the damage the contract has incurred on the state budget,” Milanovic explained.

“It is possible there was no intention. Mistakes happen but then it should be checked who was responsible for a mistake … I was waiting for two months but minister (Linic) took no action and I am not satisfied with his explanation,” Milanovic said.

The scandal around Linic has been gathering momentum since the beginning of this year.

His deputy Branko Segon was given marching orders amidst conflict of interest and allegations that his private company received a loan from the State of over 31.4 million Croatian kuna (cca 4 million Euro) – Linic had defended Segon all the while and held that if Segon was proven to have acted in conflict of interest he would let him go but Prime Minister Milanovic decided to get rid of Segon prior to that. Last week Segon was found to have acted in conflict of interest in some matters, however the matter of the loan from the State Development bank was reported as having been done in accordance with the law.

The scandal reached the office of Finance Minister Linic’s taxation chief, Nada Cavlovic-Smiljanec, against whom criminal allegations were made in relation to failure to impose execution order to pay taxes for OLT Osijek company and hence damaging the state budget by at least 11.8 million kuna ( 1.7 million Euro). Minister Linic had all the while defended his tax chief, but she resigned her position on Thursday 30 April listing among other reasons that she had lately been obstructed in performing her job.


Now, Linic is shifting blame unto his ex-taxation chief!


Since we’re talking about the Social Democrat (SDP) led government we cannot omit the fact that the past couple of months in Croatia had also been marked by a scandal around one of the most powerful women in Croatia’s ruling Social Democratic Party (SDP) Marina Lovric Merzel, the head of Sisak-Moslavina County, who was described by the media as close friend of Linic and was arrested on suspicions of alleged financial irregularities in the County – still remains in remand for investigations. One of her office employees recently accused her when talking to national television and saying she was paying private expenses with the money from the County accounts/ issues of suspect land valuations for purchasing building are also related to this case. Prior to her arrest some five weeks ago Prime Minister Zoran Milanovic had stated several times that he would not allow any disintegration of trust in the taxation administration, spoke of “limits” to what can be tolerated.

One must ask the question: why does Prime Minister Milanovic talk of “lost trust” and “clean hands” instead of “suspected corruption” when it comes to the State paying five time more for land than its value? Certainly, he would like to circumvent the fact that his governing SDP party might have just as many corrupt personalities as the former HDZ – but things are not looking in his favour.

He has been heard last week saying that improper dealings in government administration must be cleared so that his government can begin to do its job properly! One may well conclude from this that Milanovic’s government has been asleep at the wheel for the past two years, have brought the country to its knees and into the gutter of economic impasse, and are now gearing up for a new election campaign where SDP will, instead of tackling suspected corruption in its midst, use their handling of these scandals as some sort of indications of its determination to make things better for Croatian people.

The mood for early general elections in Croatia is gaining popularity on a daily basis; Milanovic rejects any such possibility.

Boris Lalovac, ministry of finance high-ranking employee, has replaced Linic as Finance Minister. Ina Vukic, Prof. (Zgb); B.A., M.A.Ps. (Syd)


  1. brankec says:

    As much as I’m happy not to have to listen to any of Linic’s arrogant and ignorant interviews any more, there are a few things that keep me from being over-ecstatic about this cabinet shuffle.

    One is that Linic isn’t leaving his post to go into oblivion and a normal life, as one of many Croatians that work hard to eke out a meager living. This guy has money tucked away in every corner of the world, proof of this being the company he keeps, namely tycoons like Kalem and Pavic, where he spends his free time, Dubai and Monte Carlo, and the millions if not billions of HKN that’s been ripped out of the budget through his party’s pre-bankruptcy negotiation scam.

    Another problem is that while it’s nice to see Linic go, it doesn’t mean that the detrimental policies of his party are going anywhere. With the fresh blood, new buck Lalovac soon taking over, it’s odds-on that he will only continue on Linic’s way. Lalovac wasn’t chosen for his competency, but for his ability to do his best work for the party bigwigs wearing comfortable knee-pads.

    Another problem is that Linic will probably not end up in jail. Neither will Segon. And yet between the two of them they’re responsible for perhaps billions being sucked out of the budget. The Spacva affair is a drop in the bucket compared to all the other dubious deals Linic’s office has made. You can bet neither he nor any of the other participants will see the inside of a jail cell. They will find a patsy like the similar-minded thieves from the rival party found Sanader and lay everything on him/her.

    Another fact that keeps me from jumping for joy is that Milanovic is and will still be premier. And Pusic will still be the MFA. As bad as Linic was, as arrogant as he was known to be, he paled in comparison to zit-farm Milanovic. Pusic needs no explanation.

    The one and probably only thing that gives me hope about this clash is that there is warring factions within the party that could cause another Racan scenario which would lead to early elections before these buffoons can cause any more damage. The Rijeka/Zagreb SDP feud coupled with the Varazdin/Zagreb HNS feud might actually put an end to this misery that we’ve had to endure these last couple of years. It’s also funny how our invertebrate leader on Pantovcak is keeping quiet about the whole affair, afraid to open his mouth so as not to give any more wind into Kolinda Grabarovic’s sails. That’s also a positive.

    • Thank you on comment, Brankec – SDP can no longer point the finger of corruption and thievery at HDZ – the former government, even though they’re trying so hard not to utter The word, so is president Josipovic… if the opposition parties now worked in some unity they could trigger early elections…hopefully it will happen for this government is torture, do not place all my chips on widespread dealing with corruption at local levels where it really counts but it might be interesting to see how many rats come out of their holes with this new revelation to do with Linic

  2. Michael Silovic says:

    I have to agree with brankec that no one will go to jail over this. Sadly that is pretty much the way things work in any goverment with corruption.Ina you are also right in your comments also The biggest challenge is to target corruption on the local level that really has an impact on people everyday life in their town or villages.Most local corruption has ties to higher goverment. I firmly believe that anyone charged with and found guilty of corruption should be charged with treason.When you steal from the public you are betraying their trust and your country and the penalty should be very hard. Corruption in the USA is much worse then in Croatia and is rarely exposed and when it is it is covered up very quickly.In a new country when their is so much money passing through it is bound to happen. Most people enter politics to get rich not serve the best interest of the people.

    • yep, Michael, there’s corruption everywhere but still in some countries it’s more widespread than in others, particularly at local levels where people go about their living and come across all sorts of hurdles, pressures, bribes, who knows whom to get things done etc. Much work is needed and I totally agree it amounts to treasonous acts.

  3. therealamericro says:

    While I welcome the removal of Lord Varis, it is a simple election ploy.

    The Feudal Lord of Rijeka has been and is in corruption up to his eyeballs.

    The only reason they removed him is because he is hated and SDP smells a backlash vote in the EU elections.

    His corruption, nepotism, favor pulling (writing off debts for friends, political allies and business associates) and gross incompetence and mismanagement were not the reason, votes were the reason.

    Luckily, the SDP led government is fracturing.

    Hopefully, HDZ, when it comes to power and it likely will, will hire experts in a field to a respective ministry and lower the tax rate and streamline investment and business creation to get people working again and have small businesses and not the government as the largest employer for Croatian workers and professionals.

    • I agree, therealamericro – election ploy – that’s why one can’t hear the word “corruption”from their mouth and that’s why they (SDP) all say they’ll give interviews after EUP elections in May… SDP is a disaster on many fronts and let’s hope HDZ has learned its lesson

    • brankec says:

      As far as EU elections go, TOO Late! 😉

  4. Not being a follower of politics in Croatia.. I do not know whose who.. But one thing I do see around the world is the exposure of those who are ruling or using power to govern and corruption is being exposed more and more.
    Here in the UK a minister had to resign recently as she had falsely made fraudulent claims into the tens of thousands on expenses .. She was asked to pay only a portion back.. but if we the joe-blogs public had been found guilty of fraud.. we would be in court facing prison!.. So its good to see justice is prevailing… even though it still has a long long way to go..

    • Thanks, Sue. Yes there’s corruption everywhere and Croatia is not the only country riddled with it – but the way it is dealt with and cut out of society is most important. I do wait for the time when there will be much less of it in Croatia and elsewhere. Cheers

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