October 1, 2013 / 5:51 PM / 5 years ago

Croatia issues Interpol arrest warrant for CEO of Hungary's MOL

ZAGREB, Oct 1 (Reuters) - Croatia issued an Interpol arrest warrant for the chief executive of Hungarian energy group MOL , Zsolt Hernadi, on bribery charges, state news agency Hina reported on Tuesday.

Croatia’s former prime minister, Ivo Sanader, was found guilty last year of accepting a 5 million euro ($7 million) bribe in 2008 from MOL in exchange for granting it a dominant position in oil and gas firm INA even without it buying a majority stake.

Sanader has filed an appeal. Both MOL and Sanader firmly deny the accusations.

Croatia also issued a European Arrest Warrant for Hernadi, Hina said, which makes it more likely that he would be handed over to Croatia by any other EU state.

No one at the national police headquarters in Zagreb was immediately available to comment. A MOL spokesperson declined to comment.

The warrants were issued after Hernadi failed to appear for questioning in Zagreb last month in a bribery case. A Croatian court issued a detention order last week - a precondition for issuing an international arrest warrant - citing flight risk.

Hungarian authorities have refused two requests from Croatia to question Hernadi, citing the protection of national interests and saying there was no legal reason to do so.

Hungary’s own investigation in 2011-12 found that neither MOL nor its officials played any role in the alleged bribery.

Hernadi has also denied any wrongdoing.

MOL owns close to 50 percent of INA, while the government owns almost 45 percent. Croatia says MOL’s management rights are excessive and that the Hungarian company has failed to invest adequately in INA’s development.

The two started negotiating a new shareholder agreement last month.

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