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





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.





Croatia a Banana State: in Which the Most Underaknowledged Asset is the Truth. Domagoj Margetic, Strikes with Hunger Day 22.

1 04 2013

Dear Friends,

with your signature please give support to Croatian journalist Domagoj Margetić who is on hunger strike since 11th of march 2013.  Please:

From Domagoj Margetic, investigative journalist

”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 high-profile corruption which are networked institutions in this country, and 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 provide the public access to information that never should have become public. In short, we wrote and spoke about the forbidden truths. It is publicly known that I was the one of the first investigative journalist who researched, wrote and discovered some of the biggest corruption scandals in Croatia: Hypo scandal, political corruption in the Customs; Affair HAC; Case Soboli; Affair INA and smuggling oil through INA, cigarette smuggling, tobacco mafia and 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.

I am an Author of thirteen publishing books on topics of great corruption scandals and investigations of organized crime, most notably, “Who robbed Croatia?” (2003.), “Banking Mafia” (2008.), and “The Case Pukanic: Murder with states signature”(2011).  Still, of all the scandals that I’ve revealed and have written about, the biggest is Hypo scandal, international bankingscandal, in which there is documented evidence presented, the money trail from the Croatian secret accounts abroad, primarily in Austria and Lichtenstein, under control of members of the political and economic elite from Croatia; some documents from Hypo scandal reveals the amount that reaches 47.7 billion euros. It is also known that I’ve, as an investigative journalist, first submitted documentation Attorney General’s Office on the case of Hypo – Mr Ivo Sanader– former Croatian prime Minister, back in April 2008. After that he had been under investigation, then filed charges and ultimately convicted with a criminal offense of war profiteering.

I had conceded all of mine research documents not only to investigating authorities, the police, the State Attorney’s Office and USKOK, but also the National Anti-Corruption Council in Parliament at the time the panel chaired by Dr. Zeljko Jovanovic and to investigative bodies of Austria who research Hypo scandal; I had worked closely with the late president of the Council for the Fight against Corruption Prime Minister Verica Barac.

I’ve worked as a journalist solely in the public interest, so that the citizens who are affected by the information that I have researched, ensure the availability of data and documents about some of the biggest corruption scandals in modern Croatia, Hypo scandal and many consider the largest banking scandal in Europe after the Second World War.  I have often worked against in a detriment of my personal interests and my family, to inform the public about my journalistic research. In the same time I had met with corruption deals, those strongmen who have learned to silence the media, who can buy and pay everyone.

So they had offered me money for journalistic silence and cessation ofjournalistic research as representatives of the Hypo Bank, representatives of one of the tobacco industry, representatives of the Bank of Zagreb and, when they realized that I would not accept any amount that they offered me, it was followed by the threat of very powerful individuals, institutions and companies in Croatia. Along with those whose bids or offers to pay for my silence declined, with the help of the media in which they are paid “marketing services”, and with the help of journalists and editors who they kept on its black payroll, they started a campaign of where the main objective was to discredit me as a man and as a journalist; they were written and published numerous articles and offended me with various accusations, lies and slander, to discredited me in public as much as possible, my journalist questionable authenticity.

So the media and journalists, who’ve often been involved directly or indirectly in the Hypo affair or other corruption cases, ran against me a dirty campaign for years in behalf of the mafia and corrupt politicians. On the other hand, those of whom I wrote about in this country, controlling everything from cash flow, the economy,politics, institutions, and the media, and since that I have not agreed to the settlement and haven’t made a deal with them because I did not agree to stop research and write about these corruption scandals, they have clearly made itknown that they would destroy me existentially if I won’t shut up, and if I won’t withdraw.

At first, I did not believe that they are so powerful and influential that they could deny me any journalistic work in Croatia, but eventually I realized that they control virtually everything. Very soon I found myself on the black list of journalists that Croatia must not allow to work, therefore, on the black list of journalists that no media in Croatia must not be employed. I knocked on the door of the editorial office and the media, but everywhere I’ve got the same answer, “ you’re on the black list, for you anywhere in Croatia there is no job!”

Some of my colleagues were smarter, they would take the offered money, kept quiet about the affair, and today are prized journalists who don’t have to worry about their existence nor their family. I was obviously stupid, because I refused to take money in exchange for the silence. Because, in this society, in this country, in journalism, most tariffs are for the silence, and the lowest tariff for the truth. I obviously didn’t understand at the time.

Capital of the major media in this country, is actually one way or another suspected criminal origin, about which I discovered many traces such as in my research Hypo scandal, in which involved are practically all the big media companies, their owners, or their leaders, and the media only served as a large laundry of dirty money stolen from the Croatian transition nineties. So even today, it is not advisable to explore the origins of capital in our media, and because research Hypo scandal, it is logical that I’m in all the media associated in any way with this scandal among the first names on journalistic blacklists.

Because of my research I ended up on the blacklist of the public broadcaster HRT, and it was no secret that I’m on the list of prohibited persons to HRT, or on the list of banned visits and participation in any of the shows on the channel of HRT. Besides, I am exposed to many other, judicial, police, security and intelligence pressures, to keep me shut up and stop in my journalistic research, primarily in research and writing about the Hypo scandal. And now I’m finally left on the street without any source of income, or no funds for normal existence. In other words, after all the scandals that Iuncovered, I was left to myself, no job, no income, no existential security.

That’s’ the way how the corrupt politicians and criminals, their interests and networked connections, managed to get revenge for what I wrote about and published. I have no longer any means of livelihood, and in fact, the more I have no choice which means I fight for my journalistic rights, I will announce that within ten days at a public place in Zagreb, I’m starting a hunger strike to defend my journalistic rights; primarily my right that criminal power centers in this country don’t silence me with their mafia, corruption, criminal methods. They want me to die in silence of starvation, it’s their revenge for my journalistic work.

Therefore I will starve in public, and what have happened to me, fall of conscience to all of you. If I was silent about corruption, if I like many others traded with information and documents, today I would have no financial problems and would not be forced to this letter, nor the public hunger strike. The lie is that the country and state institutions protect the rights of our journalists.

When we find major corruption scandals, our lives and our existence is not worth anything anymore. To the Mafia and the corrupt system we are an easy target to be removed, not always by physical liquidation, but worsen existence and sophisticated methods of silencing. One by one, while not silence us all, because you let them do it. Today in Croatia can work and survive only those journalists who are doing what they are told. Those journalists who respect the forbidden topic, do not write about them and can not speak, which corresponds to the owners of their media, sponsors, or political and business circles whose interests the media represents and protects.

Most of the media in Croatia today do not work on the principles of journalistic ethics and codes of practice, rather on the principles of media racket and media crime, and major media outlets often actually serve as a criminal money laundry for suspicious investors and shareowners that hidden behind certain media, thus hiding from the public and a genuine interest in the existence and the activities of individual media. Above all, I demand that the process of proposing and adopting the whistleblower protection Law on corruption begin, which would protect journalists, who explore, discover, write and report on cases of corruption and organized crime. If such a law was passed on time, it would not be possible to become an investigative journalist and banned just because I discovered and wrote about the corruption scandals that I mentioned earlier in the letter.

I demand that the institutions of the European Union continue to monitor the process of completing the requirements for membership of the Croatia, especially in regard to the protection of media freedom and whistleblower protection Law on corruption and organized crime. It would be desirable that the European Union reconsider accepting the Croatian membership until the conduct additional surveillance respect journalistic freedoms and rights, human rights and civil liberties, whistleblower protection Law on corruption and organized crime, who are citizens of Croatia in the third row, and in practice almost people with no rights. I demand from Croatian institutions to publicly answers why I am on “Black lists” of banned journalists, on what basis are set these criteria and how they prepare such black list of journalists? If such a black list does not exist, I demand that the state institutions plainly manifest in public recognition for journalistic research in uncovering corruption and organized crime in Croatia, which would have made it public knowledge that the “black lists” of disobedient journalists in this country has finally come to an end.

I demand that in Croatia I can be uninterrupted, uncensored investigative journalist to do my job, regardless of what political, financial, gangster, business, banking or other lobbies and groups I’m researching and writing, which is not the case for all the reasons that I have stated in a letter and that I can always argue further.

For all these reasons, on 11th March 2013. I begin a hunger strike in order not only to achieve the objectives set forth, but also pointed to the disastrous situation of media freedom in Croatia, especially when talking about independent investigative reporters who deal with major corruption scandals and investigation of organized crime. Such is to be silenced at all costs.

The goal is to silence us, so my hunger strike remained the only means to combat these forms of censure and restricting media freedom and rights.

I will continue with the hunger strike by fulfilling my demands.”

Domagoj Margetic, investigative journalist








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