tomislav karamarko, hdz.jpg
Photograph: HINA/ Daniel KASAP/ dk

The Croatian Parliament's Conflict of Interest Commission on Wednesday decided to launch a procedure to investigate a case involving First Deputy Prime Minister Tomislav Karamarko to determine if he is in a conflict of interest due to a business relationship between his wife Ana and his friend Josip Petrovic, a consultant for the Hungarian oil company MOL.

The decision in the case will be published at a later session after the Commission establishes if Karamarko has breached provisions of the Conflict of Interest Prevention Act or a principle.

The Commission will then investigate if Karamarko has taken part in any decision-making related to the ongoing arbitration between Croatia and MOL, if that can cause a conflict of interest on his part in the future, and if he has failed to declare the said business relationship.

Before the Commission makes a decision, Karamarko can address it on the case, and it will also interview Petrovic, said Commission member Davor Ivanjek, who is in charge of the case.

The day before the Commission's session, Karamarko said on his Facebook profile that he had personally requested the Commission to establish if he was in a conflict of interest.

Karamarko submitted the request after the Nacional weekly recently published a contract between the agency owned by Karamarko's wife Ana and the company owned by MOL's lobbyist Josip Petrovic. The contract shows that Petrovic paid the agency owned by Karamarko's wife 60,000 euros for advisory and media analysis services in the period after Karamarko was elected HDZ chief and before he came to power.

Karamarko's wife then said that she terminated the contract a few months ago, when it became obvious that Karamarko would become a member of the new government.

Karamarko has in the meantime withdrawn from any decision-making on the Croatian oil company INA, owned jointly by the Croatian state and MOL.

Croatia and MOL are involved in two arbitration cases regarding management rights in INA.

The leader of the opposition Social Democratic Party (SDP), Zoran Milanovic, said earlier that his party would today request an impeachment procedure against Karamarko, criticising him for putting MOL's interests before those of the state.

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