Croatian President Zoran Milanovic commented on the robbery in the Croatian multinational oil company INA on Facebook.
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"On the eve of a difficult autumn, which will bring dramatic increases in the prices of energy, gas and electricity to Croatian citizens and the economy, and in a situation where no measures have yet been offered to preserve the social and economic stability of Croatia, I am astonished and concerned to learn that the business model was enabled in INA which has all the characteristics of an organized robbery.
"Instead the gas from Croatian sources serves to strengthen national energy security - which is especially important in today's conditions of the international energy crisis - we are witnessing how INA's gas trading has been turned into an ATM for the enrichment of individuals connected to the government. At least as far as we know for now, if that's all there is to be revealed.
"The government's explanation that the arrests of the suspects are proof that the system works sounds almost unreal, while there is no coherent explanation about the responsibility of the entire management and supervisory chain, in which, on the Croatian side, sit people who have been politically selected and appointed in the Government of Andrej Plenkovic.
"It is incredible that they coldly announce to citizens, schools, kindergartens, entrepreneurs and everyone who uses gas a multiple price increase as a necessity without an alternative, while at the same time cheap INA gas is transferred to resellers right in front of their noses without a question.
"The information publicly available to me so far is enough to raise the question of the responsibility of a much larger number of people than those arrested, and to seriously check the management of INA, but also of the entire energy sector, in which apparently nothing happens without the participation and knowledge of the Government," Milanovic wrote on Facebook.
Croatia has arrested five people on August 27, including a top lawyer and a senior manager at national oil and gas concern INA, suspected of having organised a scheme to resell INA’s natural gas to third parties at a premium and splitting the profits.
According to Uskok, the five, who have all been placed in custody, are suspected of selling INA’s natural gas to a small local company owned by one of them at a fixed price of €19.46 /MWh, well below the market price.
The company would then sell the gas to foreign-based third-party buyers at regular market prices up to €210.26/MWh.
The five have thus made a profit of around €171 million between June 2020 and August 2022, Uskok said in the statement. ■