The Austrian Braunsberger Holding on Monday said in a press release that it had hired the Grizli Komunikacije PR agency with regard to its dispute with another Austrian company, Focus Invest, over the West Gate shopping mall exclusively for PR services and that Mate Granic was involved, under the previous SDP-led government, as Focus Invest's lobbyist to prevent the case from being covered in the media and to ensure that the State Prosecution (DORH) approve the donation of land and a "series of other acts towards a series of officials."

Braunsberger said that it considers its duty to inform the public and "present the facts that throw a completely different light on information released in the media so far about the entire case," presenting a detailed chronology of contacts and negotiations with Grizli Komunikacije which, Braunsberger underscored, was hired exclusively for public relations.

"We stress that our intention, apart from reminding the public via the media about the West Gate case, was to establish contact with 'stakeholders', that is, shareholders whom we considered were not subject to political pressure and corruption, to inform them who caused damage and how to our company, which had invested money in Croatia, and that the state itself was damaged," Braunsberger Holding claims. It notes that the reason for that move was that they had already had unpleasant experiences in that field with certain state officials and that their efforts to resolve the dispute as soon as possible had been obstructed.

Braunsberger claims that due to unresolved ownership rights in West Gate, it lost the 18 million euros it invested and that the state was damaged for ten million euros due to wrongdoing with the price of state-owned land, which was valued at 200 euros per square metre in 2009. The company says that a government decision was adopted on the sale at that price, yet in 2015, after the 2009 decision had been annulled, the land was sold to Focus Invest for just 55 euros per square metre.

"Officials from various political camps in the period from 2011 to 2015 were involved, of which we informed the public in Croatia on several occasions," Braunsberger says. The company claims that the land was appraised by the Vjestak d.o.o. company, and that the chairman of the State Property Management Commission at the time was Ranko Ostojic (SDP).

The company says that Mate Granic was involved in lobbying with the SDP-led government and that he was hired as lobbyist to prevent the case from being covered by the media and to ensure that DORH approve the donation of land and a series of other activities towards a series of officials. Mate Granic and Otto Baric personally released information in a series of media outlets to that effect, hence confirming the nature of the hiring, the press release by Braunsberger says.

The company recalled that it had pressed charges against Focus Invest in 2015. "Since then matters have come to a standstill," Braunsberger Holding said.

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