Croatia: Corruption and Money Laundering Scandal in Pictures — Hypo Alpe Adria Bank

25 04 2013

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Croatia: Corruption and Money Laundering Scandal in Pictures — Hypo Alpe Adria Bank

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Domagoj Margetic, a EU Parliament Speech re Croatian Corruption & Money Laundering (4/23/13)

23 04 2013

When I was just a teenager, my father, who was a COO at Privredna Banka Zagreb came home one day proclaiming that he has no other choice but to quit his job as an executive.  “The rulling party is making me sign illegal papers transferring large amounts of money,” he said in early 1991.   He quit his job that winter.  By June 1991, there was a civil war in the Former Yugoslavia.   Some other coworkers of his did not quit their jobs, and this is what begun happening in Croatia.

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Please watch Domagoj Margetic’s speech and questions and answers session on this day, April 23, 2013.  This is the day, when the sun started shining and wrongs were unveiled.

Speech at the European Parliament, on April 23, 2013

http://www.youtube.com/embed/IzkSjogx1hE

Questions & Answers Session at the European Parliament, on April 23, 2013

http://www.youtube.com/embed/C7lvsZFBxDo





EU Parliament: Special Committee on Organised Crime, Corruption and Money Laundering

22 04 2013

ImageWatch the hearing

Date & Time: April 23, 2013  10:30 AM – 12:30 PM @ European Parliament, Brussels

at http://www.europarl.europa.eu/ep-live/en/committees/video?event=20130423-0900-COMMITTEE-CRIM

HEARING PROGRAMME

23 April 2013 – 10.30 to 12.30

Money laundering and tax evasion in EU Member States and the consequences on the EU

Room ASP 3E2, Brussels

Opening by

Ms Sonia Alfano, Chair of the Special Committee on organised crime, corruption and money laundering.

1. (10.30 – 10.45) Money laundering and tax havens from the German perspective, Michael DEWALD, Bundeskriminalamt, Deutschland

2. (10.45 – 11.00) Money laundering and tax evasion and acceding countries, Domagoj MARGETIC, Investigative journalist, Croatia

3. (11.00 – 11.15) Money laundering and tax evasion – analysis of recent developments, Brigitte UNGERProfessor of Public Sector Economics at Utrecht School of Economics, Utrecht University

4. (11.15 – 12.30) Q & A Session

– end of hearing –





Croatian Journalists Self-Censor Themselves (U.S. 2012 Human Rights Report)

22 04 2013

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Picture:  Born in 1963, Lebanese-Iraqi cartoonist Hassan Bleibel publishes in several Middle-Eastern newspapers including Lebanon’s Al-Mustaqbal and As-Safir, and Egypt’s Al-Ahram.  His work has also featured in the western press – in Le Monde and Courrier International in France, and also in the International Herald Tribune.

The below write up is taken from the 2012 U.S. State Department Report on Human Rights. Issued: April, 2013.

Section 2. Respect for Civil Liberties, Including:

a. Freedom of Speech and Press

The constitution and law generally provide for freedom of speech and the press; however, growing economic pressures led journalists to practice self-censorship. Specifically, a number of journalists reported that publishers and media owners feared they would lose advertisers and frequently practiced self-censorship in reporting on advertisers or those linked politically to them. Direct government efforts to influence the media were occasionally reported at the local level.

Freedom of Speech: The law provides for no less than six months’ and no more than five years’ imprisonment for hate speech. Hate speech committed over the Internet is punishable by six months’ to three years’ imprisonment. While freedom of speech is guaranteed by the constitution, the criminal code sanctions individuals who act “with the goal of spreading racial, religious, sex, national, ethnic hatred or hatred based on the color of skin or sexual orientation or other characteristics.”

On November 6, the Supreme Court ruled that Vlatko Markovic, former president of the country’s football federation, must publicly apologize for calling homosexuals “unhealthy” and for proclaiming that he would never allow a homosexual player in his league. Markovic subsequently apologized. A court in Zagreb rejected the case in 2011, but LGBT activists appealed to the Supreme Court.

Freedom of Press: Many private newspapers and magazines were published without government interference. However, according to a May declaration from the Croatian Journalists Association (CJA), media ownership was not fully transparent; some business and political interests concealed their influence on media outlets. CJA President Zdenko Duka said in a September 16[, 2012] interview that the country’s National Security Council had done little to reveal the identity of media owners.

The law regulates the national television and radio networks separately from other electronic media. Independent television and radio stations operated in the country, and two of the four national television channels were privately owned and independent. There were no reports of the government influencing these outlets via advertising revenue. Local governments partly or fully owned approximately 70 percent of the local broadcast media, making them particularly vulnerable to political pressure. Approximately 46 percent of local radio stations depended on local authorities for financial support.

Minister of Internal Affairs Ranko Ostojic announced on December 21[,2012} that an internal police investigation uncovered police misconduct in the 2011 surveillance of journalists, including the editor in chief of national daily newspaper Jutarnji list. According to Ostojic’s statement, the country’s former police chief ordered the operation to determine the source of leaked information from corruption investigations against former prime minister Ivo Sanader. Ostojic turned over the results of the investigation to the Prosecutor’s Office. On December 13, the CJA called for an investigation into the case stating, “If Croatia is to be a democratic country, then its leaders must not allow journalists to be followed and tapped in the course of their professional activities. It is necessary to step up civil control of the police and secret services.”

Libel Laws/National Security: Libel is a criminal offense. During the year there were no reports of politically motivated libel cases being filed. A large number of earlier libel cases remained unresolved due to judicial backlogs. Courts may fine, but not imprison, persons convicted of slander and libel.

Internet Freedom

There were no government restrictions on access to the Internet or credible reports the government monitored e-mail or Internet chat rooms without judicial oversight. According to December 2011 statistics from Internet World Stats, there were 2,656,089 Internet users, representing 59.2 percent of the population.

Academic Freedom and Cultural Events

There were no government restrictions on academic freedom or cultural events.





We Are Not Going To Kill You, But We Will Not Let You Live, Either

15 04 2013

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Picture: “Medical research has proven that the best remedy against depression is to take a walk.  Should you end up walking long enough, you may end up leaving this depressing country.” — Occupy Croatia.

Sisak, Croatia, Thursday, April 11, 2013

BD put her tennis shoes on, on Thursday, April 11, 2013, to go for a quick power-walk.  Walking very quickly preoccupied with her worried thoughts about the latest unbelievable happenings in the country, she momentarily realized that she has coincidentally arrived at the Sisak train station.  In her sporty outfit, she quickly realized the meaning of why she was here – she purchased the train ticket and hopped on the train.

35 miles later she was in Zagreb, Croatian capital.  She arrived to support her friend, Domagoj Margetic, an investigative journalist, at the peaceful protest rally “No to Censorship!” (Ne Cenzuri!).

25 protesters were present at the peaceful rally, and each one of them had an ‘angel savior,’ a policeman, shadowing over them, empty-handed citizens with often only a pencil in their hand, in support of journalistic excellence.  Every policeman had body armor and a helmet.  Five official police cars were present, along with five police motorcycles.

Thirty days earlier, on March 11, 2013 Domagoj Margetic wrote in his letter declaring why he has chosen Hunger Strike as a mode of protest:

“This is my last attempt to set, through my example, to point out the extremely difficult existential and professional position in which Croatia’s investigative journalists have found themselves. We sought to open cases and corruption scandals, which, because of their political background and because [of] high-profile corruption which are networked [within] institutions in this country, and [linked] to a certain political party, never should be published. So my fault and some of my colleagues is very clear: we wrote what was forbidden to write, we provided the public access to information that never should have become public. In short, we wrote and spoke about the forbidden truths.”

At the British Square, or the so called ‘Britanac,’ after all the rally members were rounded up together, and the news crews presented their reporting to the TV cable news, the official statement was issued.  Domagoj Margetic sent a public appeal to the President of Croatia symbolically urging two things:

“First the public statements of the President, which will notably thank investigative journalists who uncovered major corruption scandals for their contribution in the fight against corruption in this country, in which the President would ask the government and public sector to rehabilitate those journalists after numerous difficulties that they faced confronting certain ‘censored’ topics.

Second, the public statements of the President on the necessity of passing the Whistleblowing Law on the Protection of those persons who notify of corruption and legal mechanisms to protect journalists who reveal those corruption affairs.”

As an investigative journalist, Domagoj Margetic has been publically ostracized for years.  He knew too much, and he could not be paid off.  He understood that it takes only one bribe to fall under the control of the ‘legacy political systems,’ and in that respect he was not going to be compromised.

It was publicly known that Margetic was the one of the first investigative journalist who researched, wrote and discovered some of the biggest corruption scandals in Croatia, among them:

  • Hypo Bank scandal;
  • Political Corruption in the Customs;
  • Affair HAC;
  • Case Soboli;
  • Affair INA and smuggling oil through INA;
  • Cigarette smuggling and tobacco mafia;
  • Illegal conversion and privatization of TDZ and TDR;
  • Case U.S.;
  • Case Geotechnical Engineering;
  • Case secret bank accounts in Villach;
  • Case of secret bank accounts at Privredna Banka;
  • War crimes cases: Sijekovac, Brod, Mrkonjic Grad and Sisak;
  • Affair on illegal conversions, privatization and illegal operations of the Bank of Zagreb, as well as
  • Cases of the Croatian Post, Croatian Postal Bank and the Bank of Dubrovnik.

In America, an investigative journalist like Domagoj Margetic would have followed career steps of someone like Michael Lewis, earning millions of dollars and being successful.  In Croatia, he will go on a hunger strike to hard headedly prove his point, because no one is listening.  Everything is censored.

As one of the Croatian journalists once said, in a 2011 focus group ran and sponsored by international organization, including George Soros’ Open Society, “TV shows easily get killed on the Croatian state television. It is forbidden to talk about everything, including about the fact that it is forbidden to talk.”  In Croatia, censorship is in force.   Censorship is not punishable. Those that enforce censorship are getting richer by censorship, and hence, Croatian media refuses to seriously tackle this issue.  Non-existence of the real freedom of the press and speech – ends up as marginalized personal stories of journalists such as Domagoj Margetic.  Speaking on television shows about politicians mainly means signing the death penalty for the show, and as Margetic has often done so – for himself.  As of today, April 15, 2013 Domagoj Margetic is on his 36th day of Hunger Strike.

Back to the “No to Censorship!” Rally on April 11th.  The group strolled to Pantovčak, best known as the location of the Croatian Presidential Palace where the current Croatian President, Ivo Josipovic, receives visitors.  The group strolled quietly, without shouting and without provoking.  The police shadowed the pedestrians walking and riding along them.

Police cars passed the pedestrians, and 100 meters prior to the Presidential Palace, they stopped the protest proceedings.  Here they stood for a longer than half an hour.  Domagoj Margetic sat in the wheelchair designed for handicapped.  He was too weak after his 30+ days of hunger strike to stand any longer.

In a swirl of activity, police received some more assistance at this point, and invited the group to enter into the little street with no pass through.  There, they collected everyone’s identification documents, and having named the reasons of ‘walking on the street’,  police arrested five or six people who are taken into police cars, including a young woman, Marijana Mirt, who has joined the hunger strike six days prior.

The event culminated at the point when the police fetched Domagoj Margetic, who has been feeling nauseous the whole day.  Police stood him up from the wheel chair to take him into the police car.  Domagoj could hardly walk at this point, and in front of the police car door, he falls unconscious.

The protestors call the “Urgent Care Ambulance” – but there appears to be a strange delay in arrival.  The protestors talk amongst themselves about how a pizza delivery would arrive faster than the ambulatory car.  Domagoj was taken into one hospital, and then to another, followed the whole time by a police member.  The police did not allow anyone else to come with him to the hospital.  From the hospital, after his condition improved, he was taken directly into the Police Station.

Margetic was told by police during this time: “We are not going to kill you, but we will not let you live, either.”

As Seebiz.net reported, “So far it is not known why they were arrested.”

Disclosure: Domagoj Margetic regularly reports for Seebiz.net as an independent freelance journalist.

Instead of reacting to Domagoj Margetic’s requirements, which are indeed symbolic, President Josipovic has requested from the police to enforce a police state-type strictness.  According to Seebiz.net, about 30 people were arrested, and among them were Marijana Mirt and Ana Veliki both who have begun a hunger strike, in support of Domagoj Maregetic’s demands.

A day later, police insisted that no one was arrested, and that protestors were only moved from the premises near the Presidential Palace, a statement, which speaks for itself with no further comment required.

BD from Sisak commented the following day,

“I just want to note one thing.  Not very many people showed up at the rally again today, not even those who live in Zagreb and that support Domagoj Margetic and his cause.  I came to the protest all the way from Sisak, because I cannot watch what is happening in our country any longer.  I came to be with my friend, a man who is protesting in the most difficult way, with hunger, in order to fight for truth and for justice.  Of course, not many colleague journalists came by either, except for Ms. Hana Tabakovic, and we are much thankful to her.  She is the only brave journalist, committed to the dissemination of the truth.”

Not the only one though.  During the last week of the hunger strike, several other Croatian news casters fought for Margetic’s cause against censorship.  A prominent Denis Latin was only able to join the cause after he was removed as an editor from the state-run Croatian television station, HTV.  He was replaced.

On Friday, April 12, the “No to Censorship!” protest resumed in the capital’s center square joined by two presidents of the independent road building union and the national teachers association.  Domagoj Margetic was thrilled and ecstatic.

On Sunday, April 14, Croatian citizens voted, in a low turnout of only 25% election, who voted to choose whom they would be sending as their representatives to the European Parliament, assuming that Croatia joins European Union in July, 2013.  70% of those that voted, either voted for “Nobody” or declared their vote as invalid through various tragically humorous ways.

On Monday, April 15, Domagoj Margetic, after much deliberation, and written documents requiring Formal Appeals, received travelling papers from the local Police Station, which will allow him to testify in front of European Parliament about the Hypo Alpe Adria Group scandal in the Balkans.  Despite his failing health, he will be putting his tennis shoes on, to thread all the way to the Brussels.

He is on 36th day of Hunger Strike.  His symbolic requests have still not been met.





U.S. names 18 people as alleged human rights abusers in Russia

13 04 2013

U.S. names 18 people as alleged human rights abusers in Russia

What can happen to Croatia…

“The list includes 16 people directly related to the case of Russian whistleblower Sergei Magnitsky, who died in his jail cell in 2009, as well as two others, a senior State Department official said on condition of anonymity. Those named on the list will be subject to visa bans and asset freezes in the United States under a law passed by Congress last year.”





BREAKING NEWS: Croatian Government Refuses to Issue Travel Papers to Investigative Journalist Domagoj Margetic

12 04 2013

Edit to this Article dated April 15, 2013 – Domagoj Margetic did receive travel papers after several placed appeals.  He has yet to leave the Croatia to make it to European Parliament.

We have learned this morning that the Croatian Government will not issue travel papers to Domagoj Margetic, an investigative journalist who has uncovered details of a Hypo Alpe Adria Bank scandal across Balkans.

Margetic is slated to testify in the European Parliament in one week’s time.

During the last 24 hours, Croatian Government and the Police have undertaken a series of administrative steps, to unable Margetic’s capacity to travel abroad:

  • At 14:00 hours today (April 12, 2013), the journalist’s Place of Residence is to be canceled from the residence registry database;
  • This will not allow the Police to the issue the Identification Card and the Passport

This is yet another way that the Government is stepping in to prevent the inevitable witnessing of a journalist in front of the European Parliament.

The same administrative procedures were put in place by the former government and the former Minister of Interior, Tomislav Karamarko, when he wanted to stop Domagoj Margetic from having international contacts outside of Croatia.

What is Croatian Government so afraid of?

Express your concern either on this blog or by supporting Domagoj Margetic or any other investigative journalist at the following link:

http://www.change.org/petitions/support-for-croatian-investigative-journalist-domagoj-margetić-support-to-cratian-journalist-who-is-on-hunger-strike-since-11-03-2013

You can also call :

Secretariat of the Department of the European Social Charter of Social Security

Council of Europe

Directorate General of Human Rights and Rule of Law

F-67075 Strasbourg Cedex, France

Tel +33(0) 3 88 41 32 58

Fax  +33 (0) 3 88 41 37 00








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