October 21, 2017 / 4:05 PM / 2 months ago

Croatia issues arrest warrant for Agrokor's founder

ZAGREB, Oct 21 (Reuters) - Croatia’s state prosecutor has issued an arrest warrant for Ivica Todoric, the founder of troubled food and retail conglomerate Agrokor who is under investigation along with other top managers for alleged financial irregularities at the company.

“All further actions are now a matter of police work,” the spokeswoman for the state attorney’s office said on Saturday.

Todoric’s whereabouts is currently unknown. His lawyer said earlier this week that he was abroad, while local media reported that he was probably in London.

Todoric and 12 other former executives at Agrokor, including his two sons, as well as two people from a local auditing firm which was handling Agrokor’s financial reports, are under investigation for “breach of trust in business deals and forgery of official documents.”

Todoric has denied any wrongdoing in a series of posts on his website (bit.ly/2yYkLpN) and has also said he is willing to put himself at the disposal of the judiciary and a parliamentary commission which is to investigate Agrokor's failure.

His lawyer declined to comment on the arrest warrant, state television reported.

Agrokor, the biggest Croatian private firm with around 60,000 staff across the Balkans, was put into state-run administration in April after suffering a liquidity and debt crisis.

An audit ordered by the company’s state-appointed management and performed by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PWC), showed a net loss in 2016 of 11 billion kuna ($1.73 billion) and in 2015 of 3.6 billion kuna against a net profit of 1.2 billion kuna released by the previous management.

In the audit the value of Agrokor’s net worth for 2015 and 2016 was reduced by 22 billion kuna.

Agrokor has yet to say how much it owes. Creditors include suppliers, bondholders and banks, with the biggest single portion of debt, around 1.1 billion euros ($1.30 billion), held by Russia’s Sberbank. ($1 = 0.8487 euros) ($1 = 6.3698 kuna) (Reporting by Maja Zuvela; Edited by Igor Ilic and Greg Mahlich)

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