Not adapting financial statements

Not adapting financial statements

Answering questions from the prosecution, Kosor said that at the time when Sanader was prime minister the HDZ Presidency did not adopt a financial plan and an annual financial statement as was its obligation under the statute and that it never decided on investing in the media or on hiring singers in election campaigns.

“The party’s presidency never decided on which singers would be hired and how much they would be paid. I thought that sympathisers or members were performing for free,” Kosor said.

She said that Sanader decided on agendas of meetings and proposed conclusions of the presidency, adding that all decisions were made unanimously. She also said that she had no knowledge of how Sanader acquired a luxury BMW vehicle, which the prosecution claims was a gift from Robert Jezic, owner of the petrochemical company Dioki.

Responding to questions from the defence and the trial chamber, Kosor said that the HDZ had no reason to fill its slush fund with money illegally obtained from state institutions and companies because it was receiving enough from the state budget, membership fees and legal donations. She said that from 2003 to 2009, when according to the indictment the HDZ’s slush fund was filled via the Fimi Media agency, the party received about 230 million kuna from the state budget alone.

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Tougher Croatia

Tougher Croatia

It said Croatia’s legal framework to deal with organized crime and corruption was adequate, but some changes to the legal system had not been fully implemented or were being used half-heartedly.

Croatia needed to use tougher sentencing to deter crime, the report said, noting that convicted criminals often face only suspended sentences.

An EU official said the Commission would watch corruption, but the bloc was convinced Croatia was on the right path.

“We believe that the process itself has been solid and credible, and that the process that has started in Croatia is irreversible.”

He said the situation in Croatia was different to Romania and Bulgaria, whose efforts to fight corruption and improve the rule of law are still under European Commission monitoring.

Croatia, like Romania and Bulgaria, will not automatically become a member of the passport-free Schengen zone, but Croats will have the right to seek work in other EU member states, unless they impose a restriction of up to seven years like they did in 2007.

The seven-year restrictions on the movement of Romanians and Bulgarians in the European Union are due to expire at the beginning of 2014.

Although EU countries could request Croatia be given the same type of seven-year movement restrictions, EU officials said no country had made that request.

The Commission report will be presented to EU countries for approval, as well as the European Parliament, which will discuss Croatia on April 18.

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Bulgaria to Create Anti-Corruption

Bulgaria to Create Anti-Corruption

The Bulgarian Minister of Justice announced the creation of two new independent government agencies that will focus on fighting organized crime and corruption, Reuters reported Thursday.

The announcement comes on the heels of a July 20 report by the European Commission that praised Bulgaria for its progress in combating graft, but warned that the country was still one of the most corrupt nations in the European Union. The commission, which is the executive body of the EU, manages the day-to-day business of the European Union — implementing policies, running programs and spending funds.

The report praised the country’s corruption prosecutions of former legislators and recommended that Bulgarian authorities strengthen their training efforts for public officials in order to prevent conflicts of interest and irregularities in public procurement process.

Bulgaria is currently the poorest nation in the EU and is rife with public corruption and organized crime. According to the Minister of Justice, Margarita Popova, the country’s current system is flawed because public corruption investigations are handled by an agency’s internal investigator, who is subordinate to the head of that agency and not insulated from political pressures.

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Thompson to be paid

Thompson to be paid

In one of the depositions, Barisic said Sanader decided that controversial singer Marko Perkovic Thompson should be paid 515,000 euros not to sing for any political party during election campaigns.

He said the money from the HDZ slush fund was also used to pay singers Miso Kovac and Nina Badric to sing at rallies on the HDZ campaign trail.

According to Barisic, Sanader personally supervised all HDZ payments and “not even a cent of the HDZ’s money” could be spent without Sanader’s consent.

According to statements at the last hearing, the illegal money was also used to finance the party, Sanader’s personal needs, election campaigns, the purchase of media, European lobbyists, the ruling coalition partners, the purchase of works of art to be given as gifts, and clothes of the government’s female staff.

After the last hearing, Sanader and his former spokesman Ratko Macek, the only defendants in the case who did not plead guilty, questioned the veracity of Barisic’s statements, which Sanader labelled as fiction.

Apart from Barisic, the defendants who pleaded guilty were former HDZ accountant Branka Pavosevic, Fimi Media owner Nevenka Jurak, and Marica Ivankovic, who represents the Fimi Media agency as a legal person

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