October 16, 2017 / 8:46 AM / 7 months ago

Croatia's police detain former executive of indebted Agrokor, lawyer says

ZAGREB, Oct 16 (Reuters) - A former top financial executive of indebted Croatian conglomerate Agrokor was detained on Monday during a series of police raids launched into alleged financial irregularities that brought the company under government administration.

Ljubo Pavasovic, a lawyer for Agrokor’s former deputy finance and strategy president Ivan Crnjac, told Croatian TV his client was detained and that his mobile phone as well as some documents were seized by the police. He was to be questioned by the state prosecutor later in the day.

Pavasovic did not comment on the veracity of the allegations or his client’s reaction.

Agrokor, the biggest employer in the Balkans with around 60,000 staff, was brought under state-run crisis management after suffering a liquidity and debt crisis.

“The raids were launched as part of an investigation,” the police said in a statement.

The police raided homes of several former Agrokor executives including the residence of it owner Ivica Todoric. The state judiciary said in a statement the investigation targeted 15 individuals “suspected of economic crimes and fraud”.

Todoric said in a blog post on Monday he is not currently available but was willing to put himself at disposal to judiciary and a parliamentary commission.

Croatian lawmakers approved a parliamentary commission to investigate how Agrokor ran into trouble, after crisis manager Ante Ramljak, said he had pressed for criminal charges against those responsible for financial irregularities. The audit, performed by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PWC), also showed net loss in 2015 of 3.6 billion kuna ($565.44 million) against a net profit of 1.2 billion kuna released by the previous management.

In the audit the value of Agrokor’s capital for 2015 and 2016 was reduced by 22 billion kuna. ($1 = 6.3667 kuna) (Reporting by Maja Zuvela Editing by Jeremy Gaunt)

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