The European Public Prosecutor’s Office (EPPO) in Zagreb decided on 27 September 2023, to expand an investigation against two persons suspected of receiving and giving bribes, in relation to the awarding of contracts co-funded by the EU.
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In July 2022, the EPPO reported that its Zagreb office had launched an investigation against three Croatian nationals on suspicion of receiving and giving bribes (or similar), in relation to the execution of the Extension and Reconstruction of the Waste Water Treatment Plant Project (WWTP Project) in the Croatian city of Varaždin.
All three persons were arrested on 14 July 2022, following investigative activities conducted in cooperation with Croatia’s National Police Office for the Suppression of Corruption and Organised Crime (PNUSKOK).
In May this year, the investigation was expanded for the first time, as it uncovered grounds to allege that the first and second of the three suspects arranged the favouring of the second suspect’s company in the execution of an EU-funded project, in return for home renovation work that benefited the first suspect.
According to further investigative activity, the second and third suspects made an arrangement, wherein the second suspect would undertake all necessary steps to ensure that the third suspect’s company would receive contracts from the second suspect’s company, in exchange for a payment of 10% of the total amount of the contract to the second suspect.
It is understood that, following this arrangement, the second suspect ensured the awarding of 39 contracts to the third suspect’s company. In total, the second suspect’s company paid the third suspect’s company €681 974.
According to the evidence, in return, the third suspect paid a portion of the overall agreed payment of €68 197 by covering the costs of the second suspect’s private expenses, relating to the construction and furnishing of his real estate.
It is also understood that he formally employed but only on paper the second suspect’s wife in his company, and paid her a monthly salary and associated contributions at the expense of his company.
By doing so, the third suspect paid the second suspect an additional bribe of €40 511.
Some of the contracts awarded in this manner had been co financed by the EU’s Cohesion Fund, including the one with the highest value. ■
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