British judge Duncan Ouseley decided in London on Thursday that Ivica Todorić, founder of the food giant Agrokor, will be extradited to Croatia. A hearing was held at the High Court in London today, at which a final decision was made as to whether Todorić is entitled to appeal the decision to be extradited to Croatia. The first-instance decision became final and his extradition will now follow. Following the ruling, Todorić issued a statement saying: “Although I am very disappointed with today’s verdict, this will not prevent me from uncovering unrestrained corruption at the very top of the Croatian government so that those responsible will be brought to justice. I call on the Croatian and international authorities to launch a full independent investigation into secret deals between certain members of the Croatian government, private companies that have compiled Lex Agrokor and predatory companies that have significantly influenced the law to their advantage, primarily the Knighthead Capital risk-limiting fund from the United States and two Russian state-owned banks. ” He also told reporters outside the court that he is “ready for anything, even for Remetinec”, referring to the prison in Zagreb, where he will be held while the allegations against him are investigated, Balkan Insight reports. Agrokor’s former owner is accused of a number of fraudulent activities. Croatia’s biggest private company found itself in financial trouble since the beginning of 2017. Due to the company’s role in Croatia’s economy, the parliament bailed it out, passing a law on procedures for extraordinary management in companies of systematic significance in April. Under the law, called the Lex Agrokor, the company was put under a 15-month state management to restructure the company, pay off its debts and sell off the profitable entities of the group. Akgrokor’s creditors reached a settlement in July 2018 and took over the company. Agrokor’s biggest shareholder is now Russia’s Sberbank, with 39.2% of the shares. Other owners include bond holders, with a 25% stake, another Russian bank, VTB, with a 7.5% ownership and Zagrebačka Banka, with 2.3%.
The latest report by the International Independent Authority Financial Action Task Force, FATF, concluded that eleven countries including Serbia remain on the list of high-risk states for money laundering. The intergovernmental organisation founded on the initiative of G7 countries to develop policies to combat money laundering found that those countries do not fully implement recommendations to prevent money laundering and the financing of terrorism.The report specifically states the deterrence mechanism against money laundering and the financing of terrorist organisations is not functioning properly due to two factors: firstly, lawyers’ activities are not properly controlled; and secondly the relevant state institutions do not possess on their systems a complete and updated information on the ownership of companies. Other problems include the lack of monitoring of the financial transactions of political figures as well as inadequate control of electronic money transactions and banking activities that legalisemoney laundering. The report states the same concerns as it did in the previous report published in June. Serbia accepts FATF criteria to combat money laundering and terrosit financing and has pledged to implement its recommendations.
The European parliament has passed a directive that will ban single-use plastics to reduce its impact on the environment. Under the new directive, plastic straws, cotton buds and a few other single-use items will be banned from 2021 onwards, while 90% of plastic bottles will have to be recycled by 2025. In accordance with the new directive, Slovenian government will allocate fresh funds for innovations to produce alternatives to plastic packaging and other plastic products, Simon Zajc, state secretary at the environment ministry said on Wednesday, STA reports.”We’ll significantly increase the funds for products which are being developed or close to being placed on the market,” he told the committee for infrastructure, the environment and spatial planning. Slovenia will also aim to phase out the use of lightweight plastic carrier bags in 2019. According to Zajc, an average Slovenian uses 90 plastic bags a year, whereas the EU goal was to reduce the figure to under 50 or even under 40 by 2025.