Tour-de-force Raid In Croatian Capital Zagreb Over Corruption

From left: Slobodan L:jubicic, Milan Bandic and Petar Pripuz

From left: Slobodan L:jubicic, Milan Bandic and Petar Pripuz

On late afternoon/evening Sunday 19 October 2014 police in Croatia’s capital Zagreb have arrested 19 people from the city’s Mayor’s office and associated business holdings. Croatian and the world media are full of this story, as it certainly appears more like a political tour-de-force raid against the city’s authorities rather than a normal train of events following duly conclusive investigations. No doubt, corruption in Croatia (as with all former Yugoslavia states) is a crippling scourge, but one doubts the arrests require such adroit manoeuvre as we’ve seen from this move instigated by Croatia’s Anti-corruption authority USKOK. Why the authorities chose a Sunday evening to arrest these individuals is not clear but it certainly added high drama to the whole process that stinks of political plotting.
The “Tour de force” (a performance managed with great skill) could well be a clever plot – by the pro-communist or ex-communists holding power in the country, including the president Ivo Josipovic whose second mandate in imminent elections is looking more and more unlikely – to push into the background the trial in Germany against two Croatian nationals (Josip Perkovic and Zdravko Mustac) for communist Yugoslavia crimes. The trial in Germany is as far as I and many are concerned a trial of historical importance; it’s likely to reveal quite a string of murderous operations by Tito’s regime – communist Yugoslavia, and as such snatch away quite a few votes from Josipovic and perhaps even more for the ruling Social Democrats at next year’s parliamentary elections.
So, Milan Bandic, the longest serving Mayor in history, generally, this is his fifth mandate since 2000, has been arrested and alongside him the co-CEO of CIOS waste disposal and recycling corporation, Petar Pripuz, as well as the president of public infrastructure firm Zagreb Holdings, Slobodan Ljubičić Kikan. Also 16 other staff and/or associates of the City administration, which operates within a conglomerate of some 20 companies, have been arrested. Names of all have not yet been released.
The public does not know exactly what and if the authorities hold evidence that stacks up to criminal charges but it is expected that Monday, 20th October – today- all will be revealed in a Zagreb court. Or, perhaps not all!
The following announcement can be found on the USKOK (anti-corruption authority) website:
Following months of complicated criminal investigations associated with illegal practices in the City of Zagreb and Zagreb Holdings, conducted by the Police Directorate and the National Police USKOK, coordinated by the State Attorney’s office and USKOK, several persons have been arrested (19.10.2014)
Certain evidential activities will be carried out in reference to the apprehended persons and will, within statutory time, be brought to the remand superintendent. Applications for criminal charges, based on founded suspicions, for a larger number of criminal acts of corruption, abuse of position and power and trading with influence.
The news of these arrests has dropped upon the Croatian public like a bomb, even though there have been suggestions for a number of years that corruption and abuse of power has plagued the city authorities. People are in shock and confused by the fact that the arrest occurred on Sunday late afternoon/evening when it was clear that for at least a year and half the ring has been tightening around the city authorities; allegations against Bandic have occupied media space for number of years but nothing stuck… all accounts and receipts and invoicing have been under scrutiny and forensic auditing, even the smallest of receipts such as those for petrol. Bandic has been a sore in Social Democrats’ (read: formerly known as the League of Communists) eyes ever since he left that party in 2009 and embarked upon his, unsuccessful, candidacy for President of Croatia. Open animosity between Bandic and the Prime Minister Zoran Milanovic has often surfaced into the public as tragic and pathetic. There have been expectations that Social Democrats would destroy Bandic but nothing happened for years and now this arrest – on a Sunday evening!
Milan Bandic’s lawyer, Kresimir Krsnik, has stated for Croatian radio:
When all the investigations are done, we will see what will happen. This is a spin used to divert attention from the trials against Perkovic and Mustac [in Germany]. All the media will now be writing about these arrests. I would like to share with the Croatian public and know why they have been arrested.”
It would seem that the authorities investigating corruption have come to a conclusion that corruption with the Zagreb City administration and operations is not a matter of a few isolated acts but a matter of systemic corruption enabled by the City heads/the Mayor through a creation of a network of corrupt practices.
According to unofficial sources, Bandic, his close associate Ljubicic and a Zagreb entrepreneur Pripuz allegedly caused a financial harm to the city budget by committing a series of corruption-related crimes.
Judging by what the minister for Entrepreneurship and Crafts, Goran Maras, said it would also seem that there is still quite a bit of investigating to be done.
Given that we’re dealing with a very large number of people arrested it’s obvious that there is a great deal of matters to investigate and I hope that not a single stone will remain unturned. And that everything that is still unclear and suspect will be investigated.
So, it’s clear: it is still an ongoing investigation and 19 people are behind bars, in remand pending investigation unless some are conditionally released.
Regardless of whether the persons arrested will be found guilty of corruption or not, it is profoundly sad to see that Croatian authorities seem to thrive on sensationalism even with the serious crimes such as corruption is. Processing suspects for corruption and abuse of power should be something that is practiced every day in a country such as Croatia and not seemingly sporadically by bringing the “big fish” to public slaughter (e,g, former Prime Minister Ivo Sanader, Nadan Vidosevic/former head of Croatian Chamber of Economy etc) just to show the government is doing something about corruption when if fact the biggest problem for the country’s well being is the widespread corruption occurring at local levels of government and government offices. Furthermore, one must wonder whether Croatia is becoming a country that likes to arrest first and then look for evidence that would sustain criminal charges? If so, any foreign investor would shudder and turn away. The story behind Zagreb Mayor and the 18 others arrested with him promises to be interesting but I truly hope it leads to a tighter control and policing of practices at all levels of government and state controlled companies for there lies corruption’s lifeline. Ina Vukic, Prof. (Zgb); B.A.,M.A.Ps. (Syd)


  1. therealamericro says:

    Small potatoes.

    When Mesic, Loncar & Co. go down then I’ll believe it.

    This is similar to HDZ’s bringing down Sanader to try and make the party look good due to poll numbers.

    The charges against Sanader are a drop in the bucket of thievery.

    I unfortunately, until proven wrong, can’t see much of a difference with Bandic.

    • Me too, waiting for Mesic 🙂 – therealamericro.

    • You got it the realamerico. This is a smokescreen. What Sanader did is peanuts compared to what the Commis stole from 1945 and onwards. Why does no one ask about the billions of foreign aid sent in to Yugoslavia and where it ended up? Or the privately-owned land they ‘nationalized?’ I know people who are still fighting to have the land their family legally owned before 1945 to be returned to them!!!
      Watch the excellent film The Soviet Story
      as it details the crimes of Communists in Ukraine and the Baltic republics but also applies to the former Yugoslavia.

  2. Not long ago I read a report on survey that 89 percent Croats surveyed had stated that bribe and favoritism often are the easiest way to get certain services in Croatia. In the meantime, just a few Croats state that they were required to or were expected to offer a bribe in the past 12 months. With these results Croatia lines up with the countries where the perception of corruption is the highest – in one group with the Czech Republic, Lithuania, Bulgaria, Romania and Greece, according to the first of its kind report of the European Commission on corruption in the member states … and so we come to your conclusion, Ina: local government is particularly important to contribute to significant reduction in corruption.

    The sad, sad thing is that even President Ivo Josipovic has a couple of days ago in public stated while laughing that he hopes he would not need to slip an envelope (with money) to Milan Kujundzic, the newest candidate for presidency, if he were to attend a medical check up as Kujundzic suggested he could.

    It is actually disgraceful for a president to joke about a serious matter of corruption practices such as “envelopes” that has been a practice cemented during communist Yugoslavia

    • I agree Violamia – it’s shocking and disgusting to see the president joke about such repulsive practices as if they’re OK. They’re not OK, they’re not funny.

  3. Hahahaha – what a knucklehead!
    Croatian President Ivo Josipovic has called on politicians to refrain from statements that could influence the judiciary and to let law enforcement agencies do their job following the arrest of Zagreb Mayor Milan Bandic. Too late, all part of plan to discredit Bandic as quickly as possible even before all investigation done! What a comedy of government and president. Josipovic’s SDP’s should have ordered USKOK and police to keep investigating on the quiet.

    If Bandic is not found corrupt (which he will be if all indications poan out) then the media coverage will certainly finish off the job of ruining his life and the life of his family.

  4. Well, had Bandic played nice with SDP and sowed bullshit, pardon the expression, he would not be behind bars regardless of whether he is guilty of corruption or not. That’s the way the cookie still crumbles in former communist Yugoslavia or any communist country – political niceties are it! They’ll get you anywhere!

  5. Steve Kustro says:

    We are all heading into a very fast spinning obis…… where it stops and goes nobody knows… theres no direction at all….
    There all chasing there tails looking busy while one hand is in the state coffers….. its disgusting that there’s still those old communists holding up at gun point…. Why aren’t the people in the streets demanding change why why its just insane…. are we all scared to speak our minds or is there a snipper sitting on every corner still waiting for directions from these faceless cowards….

    Ina you should step forward and place yourself as a candidate….
    You will get my vote and I’m sure there will plenty more….


    Sounds nice hey INA

    Steve Kustro

    • Thank you, Steve – it’s not out of the question although not yet 🙂 The time for change is almost on everyone’s lips, now all we need to do is help build up courage in people to act…time will come

  6. Steve Kustro says:

    Who’s been arrested?

    They were arrested Zagreb Mayor Milan Bandic, CEO Holding Slobodan Ljubicic, CEO CIOS Petar Pripuz, ZET CEO Ivan Tolic, director of Purity Miljenko Benko, director of the gas plant Ante Dodig, head of the Office of the Mayor Miro Laco, head of professional services Mayor Vidoje Bulum , general secretary of the Zagreb Sports Association Zdenko Antunovic, Special Adviser to the Mayor Zeljko Horvat officer for public procurement Zagreb Holding Philip Culo, Head of Department for Legal Affairs in the Office for Property Affairs Koraljka Rožanković Uremović John Jurcic Bandic`s driver, John Markus of urban PPO, Ines lock, Deputy Head of the Office for Property Affairs, director of construction company BRAMGRAD Project Ltd. Branko Mihaljevic and Dragutin Kosice, director of sports facilities.

    • Thank you for this list, Steve, much appreciated – I was researching that among other things and you beat me to it. How good is that. Thank you and cheers

  7. Were all here to help you my dear Ina not like those back home…

    • They should learn to help each other more, otherwise lack of camaraderie and a lot of jealousy will eat them up. Isn’t it really sad to see that most in public offices/government think they know it all or must do it all on their own (and so lots of things fail) rather than get consultants and other help like it happens in the developed world. Ah well, we live and learn 😀

  8. Michael Silovic says:

    Everyone is innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. Even during those times we must be certain that all of the facts have been presented in an honest way before we jump to any conclusion. We seen the political ramifications involved in criminal trials and fabrication s before via Gotovina et el and should hold judgment. If in fact there was corruption then they should be punished to the full extent of the law. if they are found to have taken money from the Croatian people then they should be stripped of all monies and properties that they own regardless if proof is shown that it is not related and anyone in their families as well that has anything gained from corruption.To often we see politicians families have so much given to them after the guilty ones are punished that for some it is still worth going to jail for. When you strip the families of all of their belongings then you will see less corruption. I have no respect for anyone who steals from the Croatian people and would prefer that they be thrown out of the country with nothing but the shirt on their back and stripped of their citizenship since we do not have public hangings.

    • I agree with you Michael: innocent until proven guilty but it’s sad that spirits run high in the media and it builds up a picture terrible even before any trial begins. If found guilty I would take everything away they posses bar bare minimum necessary and throw away the prison key after locking them inside. So much misery caused by corrupt practices.

  9. Powerful article,hoping the truth will come out and the corrupt get what they deserve.History will judges all of them.Regards.JMS

  10. Ina
    Please write about the prosvjede branitelja in Zagreb these days.
    Thank you so much.

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