Competition Agency member and driver say agency head wrote to Sanader
A member Croatian Competition Agency (AZTN) Council, Vesna Patrlj, and AZTN driver Zlatko Horvat told the Zagreb County Court on Friday that AZTN president Olgica Spevec had sent a letter to the then Prime Minister Ivo Sanader in April 2009 to inform him that the regulator would assess the concentration following the amending of INA's shareholders agreement between the company's two biggest shareholders: the Croatian government and Hungary's MOL.
Sanader, who is standing trial for having allegedly taken bribes from MOL to enable it to have a controlling stake in INA through the amended agreement, claims that he has never received the said letter and that the letter was antedated under a false registration number. A former head of the AZTN registry office, Vesna Spoljaric previously testified that Spevec's secretary Petra Petrovic, had asked her in December 2009 to put down the date April 2009 on the document which informed Sanader that MOL was given a dominant influence on the market with the amended shareholders' agreement.
Following Spoljaric's testimony, the agency said in a statement that it had not acted unlawfully when assessing the INA/MOL concentration, and refuted Spoljaric's statement as untrue. Today's testimonies corroborated the agency's statement.
Witness Patrlj said today that in April 2009 Spevec distributed an e-mail with the letter to Sanader to the agency's members and that the letter was also sent to the then Economy Minister Damir Polancec as well as that the agency's members held a meeting on 21 April at which it was said that the letter would be handed to PM Sanader by the agency's driver Horvat.
According to the witness, Spevec had explained that she had opted for the letter as Sanader had phoned her to inform her that this was "a transaction of a strategic interest to the state" and that he expected the agency to act quickly.
The witness explained that the letter included the summary of working materials and analyses of expert services with Spevec's announcement about the initiation of procedure for assessment of permissibility of MOL's concentration on Croatia's market.
Patrlj said that she had asked the driver the following morning whether he had delivered the letter and he answered in the affirmative.
The witness could not answer the defence team's question why the letter had not been provided with the receipt slip which could then serve as evidence that it had been really forwarded.
Driver Horvat told the court that he had brought the letter, known to everybody in the agency, to the economy ministry and the government in the afternoon of 21 April,
He said he did not know whether the government had registered the receipt of the letter and that the letters from the agency rarely were accompanied with delivery notes.
The defence for Sanader described his testimony as unbelievable and that it was inconceivable for a serious agency to work in a such sloppy manner.
The trial resumes on 28 June.