Interpol drops arrest warrant for MOL's chief

November 18, 2016 7:30 AM EST

Zsolt Hernadi, chairman and CEO of the Hungarian oil and gas group MOL, gestures during an interview with Reuters in Budapest, Hungary, November 4, 2016. REUTERS/Laszlo Balogh


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ZAGREB (Reuters) - An international arrest warrant has been dropped for the head of Hungary's MOL who is accused in Croatia of bribery, the Hungarian oil and gas firm said on Friday.

Zsolt Hernadi, MOL's chief executive and chairman, has been indicted in Croatia for allegedly bribing former Croatian prime minister Ivo Sanader to allow MOL to have a dominant role in Croatia's energy firm INA. MOL and the Croatian government are the biggest shareholders in INA.

MOL said in a statement that the decision by international police organization Interpol, confirmed there was no wrongdoing.

"We have repeatedly rejected any suggestion of improper business conduct and we continue to view this case as politically motivated. We welcome the decision of Interpol which was adopted following a comprehensive review of the case," MOL said.

The Croatian police confirmed in a statement the arrest warrant had been dropped by Interpol's executive committee, but added that no explanation had been provided for the decision.

"Police will from now on (in this matter) use other bilateral and multilateral channels of communication to achieve international police cooperation," police said.

According to Croatia's indictment, Sanader, prime minister from 2004 to 2009, received 10 million euros ($10.6 million) as a bribe from MOL. He also denied any wrongdoing and Croatia's Constitutional Court ruled last year that there must be a retrial due to procedural errors.

He was initially sentenced to eight-and-a-half years in prison. Due to health reasons Sanader's renewed trial is currently on hold.

Sanader is the highest-ranking Croatian official tried for graft as part of the ex-Yugoslav republic's drive to strengthen the rule of law and join the European Union, which it did in 2013.

Zagreb and MOL have been at odds for years over management rights and investment strategy in INA.

(Reporting by Igor Ilic; Additional reporting by Krisztina Than in Budapest; Editing by Elaine Hardcastle)



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