Outgoing Economic Minister Tomislav Panenic on Thursday said that due to irregularities in grants issued in public tenders advertised by the ministry in 2015, he would file charges with the State Prosecutor's Office (DORH), and USKOK anti-corruption office and the police against people in committees which awarded those grants, including former economy minister Ivan Vrdoljak.
Panenic informed reporters of the decision which had been made after an analysis was conducted of the 2015 selection procedure to issue the grants.
"We decided to do that now, or rather have been conducting the analysis over the past few week because an audit has shown that the procedure was not conducted properly. As such we decided to re-investigate the decisions concerning the grants... What we found was not disarray but something tragic and it seems that these actions were organised by a group of people who knew what they were doing," Panenic said, adding that only the decisions made in 2015 had been investigated.
Panenic added that he believed similar irregularities in awarding grants had also occurred in other public bodies and that this had been going on for some time. He said that it was fascinating that, for example, grants were awarded by the economy ministry to municipalities in just one county. Grants were often awarded to those municipalities that did not satisfy the necessary requirements, he said.
In conclusion, Panenic said that all six tenders advertised in 2015 by the economy ministry offered grants in the amount of HRK 25.5 million and that all decisions were signed by former minister Vrdoljak.
This year the ministry has not advertised even one tender for grants but rather a few tenders for European Union funding. He announced that next week a public tender would be advertised for aid in the amount of HRK 40 million earmarked for the industry sector. He added that 2015 had been an election year and "perhaps that was the reason why grants were awarded as they were."