SOCIETAL CAPTURE II: “Business as usual” for Bandić, Pripuz and Ljubičić and 50 million HRK of income before the eyes of criminal justice
Translation: Fairpress
Authors: M. Podumljak, A. Hećimović
After Fairpress wrote about the sluggishness of the process of the indictment against Mayor of Zagreb Milan Bandić, the Head of Zagreb Holding Slobodan Ljubičić and the master of waste Petar Pripuz in the Agram affair and the fact that they continued to smoothly conclude new, multimillion-HRK public procurement contracts, i.e. possibly continued to repeat the criminal offences for which they are charged for in the indictment – it appears that USKOK (Office for the Suppression of Corruption and Organised Crime) has finally woken up.

Namely, USKOK asked of the Supreme Court of the Republic of Croatia to prescribe a pre-trial custody for Mayor Milan Bandić or to impose a measure of banning him from executing his duty as Mayor because of the risk of repeating the criminal offence, Telegram reported yesterday. The sluggishness of the procedure and the fact that three years have already passed since the spectacular arrest in the Agram affair, with the indictment still not being confirmed, was discussed tonight by RTL daily as well.

As it was announced, Fairpress continues with publishing details from multi-year investigation that we conducted about links between organised crime, the “bosses” of the Croatian economy and the local government within the framework of the EU funded –  Integrity Observer project.

As Fairpress published earlier, Zagreb Holding continued to contract C.I.O.S. group and its affiliated companies even after the spectacular arrests and the indictment against all responsible persons in the City of Zagreb, Zagreb Holding and C.I.O.S. and in values of contracts multiple times larger than in the case before of their arrest. Namely, in the period after the arrest of Milan Bandić, Slobodan Ljubičić and Petar Pripuz in the AGRAM affair until the indictment by USKOK, among other things also due to suspicion that Milan Bandić and Slobodan Ljubičić favoured Petar Pripuz, and his C.I.O.S. group in public procurement, Zagreb Holding concluded three more public procurement contracts with the C.I.O.S. group in the total value of 21.9 million HRK. These three contracts regarding waste management were concluded about six months after the spectacular arrest, i.e. immediately after Milan Bandić was released, for the second time from custody, and after he managed to dismiss his former deputy Sandra Švaljek from the position of acting Mayor of the City of Zagreb, and finally return to the position of mayor.

As we already reported, encouraged by the sluggishness of USKOK and the County court of Zagreb, at the end of 2015, a year after the arrests and a month before the USKOK indictment, Bandić and Ljubičić ensured the C.I.O.S. group two framework agreements related to waste management which are very likely to be prolonged, considering that not even three years after the arrest, the indictment still hasn’t been accepted before the County court of Zagreb.

Although at the moment of signing these contracts Slobodan Ljubičić was not formally the president of the Management Board of the City Holding, “management continuity” of Zagreb Holding and Ljubičić’s, i.e. Bandić’s influence over decision-making was ensured by a strange combination of circumstances. Namely, immediately upon getting out of custody in 2014, Slobodan Ljubičić resigned from the position of president of the Management Board of Zagreb Holding. At the time in the explanation of the resignation Ljubičić stated that the resignation “shouldn’t be considered as termination of his employment contract”, and he remained employed at Zagreb Holding at the position of advisor of the manager of the branch Zagreb Freight Station. However, Ljubičić didn’t appear at his workplace until the end of 2015, i.e. as the Communications Officer of Zagreb Holding,

Dinka Pančić, explained for Fairpress:

“The rights and obligations from his employment contract were halted due to using unpaid leave of absence.

Ljubičić used the unpaid leave of absence all the way up to 1 October 2015 when he was appointed as deputy of the president of the at the time Management Board of Zagreb Holding, Ana Stojić Deban. Ana Stojić Deban is the one who’s precisely important for the continuation of “management continuity” of Zagreb Holding during the time of the prescribed custody and absence of Milan Bandić and Slobodan Ljubičić from their positions in the City, and the Holding. According to the biography published on the official website of Zagreb Holding, Ana Stojić Deban started her career in the city company Freight Station (the company is currently owned by Zagreb Holding) in 2004 at the time when Freight Station was managed by Slobodan Ljubičić. Ana Stojić Deban worked at the Freight Station at various positions up until the moment Slobodan Ljubičić moved to the position of president of the Management Board of Zagreb Holding (in 2013), when he appointed her, as a person of special trust, to the position of deputy of the president of the Management Board of Zagreb Holding, i.e. his assistant. Stojić Deban remained at this position until 15 June 2015, when she was appointed president of the Management Board of Zagreb Holding.

According to media reports of that time, the one who insisted on the appointment of Ana Stojić Deban to the position of president of the Management Board was Mayor Bandić himself, who, upon exiting from custody (in which he ended up in again in the meantime because of the extension of the investigation and the testimony of Vida Demarin) in April of 2015 announced that he’ll get rid of the mew Management Board of Zagreb Holding which was appointed in the meantime by his deputy Sandra Švaljek. It took Bandić two months to complete his intent. The Assembly of Zagreb Holding dismissed the Management Board on 15 June 2015 and made a decision on appointing the new president of the Management Board, Ana Stojić Deban.

In short, during the time of contracting the first one of the three contracts, which we wrote about in the previous article, Milan Bandić had already returned to the position of Mayor, and he had a loyal ally in the Management Board of Zagreb Holding, Ana Stojić Deban, who he would appoint president of the Management Board of Zagreb Holding shortly after. Immediately after being appointed president of the Management Board, Ana Stojić Deban signed the other two mentioned contracts with the company C.I.O.S. (in July of 2015).

For the “play” of the formal presidents of management and the informal “bosses” to be complete, on 1 October 2015 Slobodan Ljubičić was appointed assistant of his former assistant Ana Stojić Deban. So, these two bosses and assistants just switched positions in the management, which ensured the “work continuity” of this group. Immediately upon the appointment of Ljubičić Zagreb Holding also signed two framework agreements with companies owned by the C.I.O.S. group which we wrote about in the previous article, each in a total amount of approximately 18 million HRK. Although USKOK issued an indictment against Bandić, Ljubičić and Pripuz about a month after these framework agreements, in the indictment it’s not visible whether the investigative bodies entered into the contents of the previous three contracts and the stated two framework agreements of a total value going over 50 million HRK. Therefore, “business as usual” for Bandić, Pripuz and Ljubičić “Business as usual” for Bandić, Pripuz and Ljubičić and 50 million HRK of income before the eyes of criminal justice system in Croatia.

Connected articles: AGRAM affair I: USKOK and the County court of Zagreb allowed Bandić, Ljubičić and Pripuz to continue their lucrative business and 50 million HRK of income despite the spectacle arrests

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