Croatia: Corruption And Bribery – Former President Stjepan Mesic Named In Finnish Indictment?

Stjepan Mesic Patria

One of the largest bribery/corruption cases on the international scene are the Finnish State Prosecutor’s cases of corruption and bribery against managers of Patria armoured personnel carriers contracts that has already in its offshoots seen the Slovenian former Prime Minister Janez Jansa behind bars since June 2013.

Croatia’s former president, Stjepan Mesic, has for a couple of years or so been denying any involvement in the Patria Arms deal alleged corruption with Croatia during the years of his presidential mandate. He has consistently distanced himself from the deal and only too swiftly accused the media of underhanded malice and lies at any mention of suspicion against him. Indeed, he called it all a political witch hunt and work of a political intelligence!.

And now – during the past week – it looks as though something significant and criminal may truly have occurred because the Finnish Prosecutor, according to Croatia’s news portal Vecernji List, has just commenced with preliminary hearings at court against three Patria managers. The allegations against the three Patria managers reportedly include that Croatian former President and Prime Minister were given bribes and the Finnish indictment against Patria managers alleges that the bribery deal was reportedly as follows:

The former Croatian president Stjepan Mesic 1% (cca 630,000 Euro), to the former Croatian Prime Minister Franjo Greguric also 1% and to the director of Croatian company Djuro Djakovic, Bartol Jerkovic, 2% of the bribe for “helping” in the sales deal of Patria armoured personnel carriers to Croatia. The initial bribe amount was reported to have been 20 million Euro but as the number of vehicles purchased by Croatia had been reduced the bribery amount is reported to have ended up being 3.1 million Euro!

The claim against the three Patria managers is now a public document and Vecernji List writes that the Finnish Prosecutor Jukka Rappe emphasises, once again, that the Finnish side has not nor does it have the jurisdiction to confirm the guilt of Croatian citizens in the matter and that they have not confirmed yet as to whether the persons named in the claim (Mesic, Greguric, Jerkovic) had received the bribes and that the investigation into these bribes is in the hands of the Croatian Attorney General’s office (DORH). The trial in this case commences in Finland in September.

The Finnish Prosecutor Rappe has reportedly stated in public that this case is very complex because some accounts were falsified, and they do not know everything that was paid for!

Well, well, well – if these claims prove to be true, it does not surprise me at all that there seems to be a lack of records for what was paid for to Croatia where Stjepan Mesic is implicated. It all sounds to me very much like the “little” sad story of Stjepan Mesic and the obviously highly suspect trail of money for humanitarian aid to Croatia given to him in 1992 in Australia to take to Croatia and have the cheques for tens of thousands of dollars in the name of Croatian National Fund deposited in the bank in Austria. To my knowledge (and I have had access to the relevant bank account statements of the time), the cheques never got deposited in the bank, no one knows to this day where the money went, Mesic had claimed that he forgot about carrying the cheques, that when he discovered one in the pocket of his coat after one year from returning from a trip to Australia, then, some 15 years after the fact, he remembered giving that cheque to the then parliamentary speaker Zarko Domljan to use for the renovations of the Croatian government offices bombed by Serbs in 1992! I doubt that the cheque was given to Domljan or money spent for renovations, but even if it were the case one must ask the question: how was it possible for someone like him – who was NOT a signatory to the cheques’ beneficiary bank account – to actually cash the cheques or use them for another purpose than the one the funds were raised for among Croats in the diaspora!?


To my understanding and knowledge this could only have been done through corruption. And, of course, if the cheque was given to Domljan, then it would have been cashed by persons other than those who were signatories to the bank account to which the cheque was made (the Croatian National Fund bank account in Austria has been reported as not having processed the cheques in question at all!). Mesic never explained  how this was possible, let alone the awful and corrupt reality (if it’s true that he gave the cheques to Domljan) in which he admits he decided to use other people’s money (donations for a specific and different cause) for purposes he himself decided upon without any reference whatsoever to those who donated the funds!


It is utterly gut wrenching to think that Croatian authorities may still not have taken it upon themselves to investigate these war profiteering allegations connected with Mesic, which have been in the public arena with what one could easily conclude a great amount of evidence for the past 15 years, at least.


I wonder if he saw to a similar scenario when it comes to moneys that came in from Patria arms deal, siphoning off the bribery cash into private pockets? Perhaps not, perhaps yes – in any case these are allegations that must be investigated regardless of any investigation’s outcome for they are within the public interest domain.

So, is the Croatian Attorney General’s office – DORH – going to investigate the allegations of bribery by the Finnish Prosecutor, or is it investigating it already? Certainly, the possible excuse for not doing anything in Croatia about these allegations in the form of “the Finnish courts have not finished yet…” would be utterly pathetic. Slovenia had investigated the alleged solicitation of bribes while signing a defense contract with the Finnish company Patria for a supply of armoured vehicles, its former PM went to jail for it so – where are the investigations in Croatia of allegations that former president Stjepan Mesic and former PM Franjo Greguric may have been involved in bribes from Patria, then!?

Of course, as usual, Mesic vehemently denies any wrongdoing! So, does Greguric. But that is no excuse for Attorney General’s office (DORH) to stay on the sides and not investigate these serious allegations of bribery now reportedly included in the indictment documents against three Patria managers put to Finnish court by the State Prosecutor. If Croatia’s former attorney general, Mladen Bajic, did nothing then perhaps the recently appointed Dinko Cvitan will?

The District Court in Hämeenlinna, Finland, had at end of January 2014, handed down the first decision in a Finnish court on the latest Patria bribery case. Patria, a majority state-owned defence contractor, was accused of paying bribes to Slovenian officials in connection with an armoured vehicles deal. The court rejected the charges, though it said a reasonable doubt remained. The Finnish State Prosecutor has lodged an appeal against this decision with a higher court, requesting the integration of the Slovene and Croatian Patria bribery cases into a single trial.

It’s high time Croatian office of state attorney – DORH – rolled up its sleeves on this matter and investigates it just as Slovenia investigated their part! Ina Vukic, Prof. (Zgb); B.A., M.A.Ps. (Syd)

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Croatia: Former President Stjepan Mesic Spins A Cock and Bull Story Against Media In Corruption Allegations

Stjepan Mesic, former president of Croatia Photo: Ivana Ivanovic/Pixsell

Stjepan Mesic, former president of Croatia
Photo: Ivana Ivanovic/Pixsell

The Finnish defendants are suspected to have participated in promising or giving of bribes through intermediaries in exchange for actions of the president of the Republic of Croatia and the general manager of a Croatian state-owned company, who were considered to have leverage in the procurement procedure of the vehicles,” says in the press/news release by Finland’s office of the State Prosecutor dated 28 June 2013.

The suspects are alleged to have promised and partly paid out bribes amounting to 5 % of the selling price of the AMV-vehicles. In 2005 Patria Vehicles Oy offered AMV-vehicles to the Republic of Croatia at a price exceeding 350 million euro. In 2007 an agreement for purchase of a limited number of vehicles was concluded between Patria Vehicles Oy and the Republic of Croatia, Patria’s share of the deal being more than 50 million euro”.

The president of the Republic of Croatia this Finnish press release refers to in none other than Stjepan Mesic, who was in office between 2000 and 2010, who was the main driver of the political onslaught against dr Franjo Tudjman that commenced in 1992 through Mesic’s political demise as Speaker in Croatian Parliament in 1994 to his perpetual and obsessive campaigns of lies or half-truths against Tudjman publicly and as witness for the ICTY prosecution that would evidently give Carla del Ponte (former ICTY chief prosecutor) the wings she needed to hunt down Croatian war-time leadership (including the already deceased Tudjman) and Croatian generals Ante Gotovina and Mladen Markac alleging joint criminal enterprise against the Serb population in Croatia during early to mid-1990’s.  In 2012 the ICTY Appeal Chamber acquitted the Croatian Generals, and so too Franjo Tudjman and the Croatian wartime leadership of joint criminal enterprise and concluded that there was no forceful deportation of Serbs from Croatia. But, damage had already been done to Tudjman’s reputation and the reputation of the whole defence efforts Croatia was forced to embark upon as a result of brutal aggression by Croatian Serb and Serb led Yugoslav army forces.

Suspicions against Stjepan Mesic in the realms of bribery, corruption, theft, and improper financial dealings … have lingered throughout all this time – for almost twenty years and he has managed to evade any serious action against him or in relation to many public allegations of corrupt or improper conduct in Croatia. This frankly does not surprise me at all, even if it does distress me profoundly as a citizen and human being.

This week the Zagreb based weekly Globus published an article in which it confirmed that it was able to receive confirmation from Finland’s chief state prosecutor, Juka Rappe, and Chief Inspector of the National Bureau of Investigations Kaj Erik Bjorkqvist, that the former Croatian President Stjepan Mesic and former Djuro Djakovic company director Bartol Jerkovic are suspected of taking bribes from a Finnish company (Patria). It is alleged that a broker was used to negotiate and receive bribes from Patria in order for Patria to win the tender for the supply of armoured military vehicles to Croatia in 2007.

The Finnish state prosecutor was quoted in Globus as saying that Finnish judicial bodies will not take any legal action against the Croatian citizens, and that this was instead the duty of the Croatian State Prosecutor’s Office, i.e., Prosecutor Mladen Bajic.

According to former president Stjepan Mesic said on Wednesday that the intelligence underworld was behind media reports saying that he was going to be considered a suspect in the Patria corruption case and that the purpose of such reports was to create chaos.

This is a game by the Globus weekly and the intelligence underworld and it suits someone that I should no longer be considered a political factor. Even though I can no longer run in elections, it obviously bothers someone that I express my opinion. This is how they intend to shut me up. This is politically motivated,” Mesic told the media.

Well, well – excuse me Mr Mesic but that is a whole lot of a cock and bull spin! You spin a fanciful and unbelievable story here that is obviously a lie! Croatian media – Globus – did nothing more than follow up on the actual news/press release by the Finnish Office of the State Prosecutor.

As far as the deal with Patria is concerned there was no need for any bribe because Patria’s bid was the most favourable,” Mesic said in article.

Well, well – excuse me Mr Mesic but that gives neither assurance nor proof that the tender process was not tampered with, i.e. certain prospective tenderer given information they should not have had. In a country riddled with corruption as Croatia was particularly during the years of Mesic’s presidency which include the current  (some already proven) monumental corruption cases before the courts against former Prime Minister Ivo Sanader/ a close political mate of Mesic, fixing a winner in a government tender process is something even a child would justifiably suspect.

While there has been no comment from Croatia’s Office of the State Prosecutor in relation to these new developments and direct allegations of corruption of the highest of orders against Stjepan Mesic one holds an expectation that the matter will be dealt with most strenuously. This is not the first time clear allegations of corruption, as well as war profiteering, against Mesic have surfaced in the Croatian media and elsewhere. There have been matters of suspect personal property and assets dealings, matters of missing funds from the diaspora and cheques carried by Mesic for humanitarian aid gone missing or inappropriately handled, to name two. Mesic had always slipped out of any serious investigations into allegations of corruption like some political Houdini – always coming up with excuses and (un)believable stories as well as personal attacks against those who “dared” to voice their seemingly well-founded suspicions, in order to confuse the issues at hand and re-direct attention elsewhere. I guess his latest “intelligence underworld” rant is more of the same Houdini-type attempt at trying to elude pursuit of justice – at least in media and public circles.  Let’s hope his latest cock and bull story about the media’s motives and an intelligence underworld doesn’t scare the State Prosecution from pursuing these most serious of allegations.  Ina Vukic, Prof. (Zgb); B.A., M.A.Ps. (Syd)


Corruption investigators knocking on Croatia’s former president’s – Stjepan Mesic – door!

Stjepan Mesic

Corruption seems woven deeply into the fabric of  that part of Croatian society where former, and perhaps some current power brokers, politicians and public company directors roam. No big surprise there, all former communist countries are tarnished with the same brush. The challenge is to pluck out the rotten threads, one by one, and free the society from having to tolerate individuals who have amassed personal wealth through corruption and bribery, and impoverished the country’s industrial base to such alarming proportions that sees new companies either bankrupt or at the brink of bankruptcy every day.

One doesn’t need to be highly street-wise to conclude that the ever climbing, disastrous levels of unemployment in Croatia are directly correlated to the gradual, allegedly corruption driven, depletion of jobs and winding down of hundreds of companies.

To see grown men cry on the streets, in front of daily TV News cameras, not knowing how they will feed their families without a job, is a motive that must mobilise all appropriate authorities into more action against corruption. Not only to process any justified corruption charges but to confiscate all property acquired through the crime that corruption is.

During the past three or so years in particular, the former HDZ (Croatian Democratic Union) government of Croatia, led by Jadranka Kosor, had declared war on corruption. The strongest message for this warfare was sent when the former Prime Minister Ivo Sanader ended up behind bars on corruption charges (currently still being heard in court).

Croatia’s new government, led by Zoran Milanovic, SDP (Social Democratic Party), has just this week demonstrated that it, too, has the hallmarks and stamina to engage in war against corruption.

Croatia’s Defence Minister Ante Kotromanovic stated, for the media, last Tuesday, that all documents pertaining to allegations of bribery in the 2007 purchasing of armoured vehicles worth 112 Million EURO from Finnish company Patria during the presidency of Stjepa Mesic have been sent to the State Prosecutor’s Office for investigation.

This investigation is sparked by the recent “allegation made by Wolgang Riedl, Patria’s go-between person during the sale of armoured vehicles in Slovenia and for a short period of time in Croatia as well, about meetings that allegedly took place in the Office of the President during the time when Stjepan Mesic was in office”.

Riedl told investigators the names of people in Croatia to whom he gave bribes, after which investigators started checking his claims.

The media claims that the Office of the President was included the process of purchasing armoured vehicles and that Mesic, as the supreme commander, was very well informed of the events and that given his position he could have directly influenced the selection of the weapons providers.

In a Media release, the former Croatian President Stjepan Mesic said on Thursday 5 April “that he had not participated at any moment in the decision making process concerning the purchase of armoured vehicles or in any way influenced a commission which made a decision to purchase armoured vehicles from Finland’s producer Patria”.

However, a year ago Mesic said to Media services that there was no talk of bribery at meeting with Patria, but remembered that someone came after the contract with Patria was signed.

At the end of the day, it seems highly unlikely that Reidl would fabricate allegations of bribery and it seems highly likely that people from the Office of Croatian President while Mesic occupied it received bribes. If the latter is confirmed then it’d be the only responsible action by the State Prosecutor to trace the path of that money and where it trickled to, in buckets it seems.

The fact that corruption (bribery) charges in Patria case, similar scenario, have reached high echelons of government power in Slovenia over the past few years is an indication that the Croatian leg of this  sorry and angering story of bribery is valid.

Obviously, while Mesic’s memory in this case may be correct, he has certainly demonstrated appalling inconsistencies when it comes to remembering events during the past decade or so. His memory had especially been misleading and confused when it came to “lost” moneys, in form of cheques, given to him to take to bank accounts for humanitarian aid Croatian émigrés held in Villach, Austria, during the years of the Croatian Homeland War. But this is an another issue, well publicised in Croatian press, which, with perseverance, may see resolution in not too distant a future. Ina Vukic, Prof. (Zgb); B.A., M.A.Ps. (Syd)

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