Justice Minister Ante Sprlje on Friday urged the relevant institutions to investigate "suspicious" business deals by the Hypo Group in Croatia, amounting to "hundreds of millions of kuna" and which, according to Sprlje involved highly positioned people in Croatia's social, political and economic milieus.

"It's about years-long suspicious dealings that spread over a wider area in Croatia," Sprlje said, adding that the epicentre of the alleged wrongdoing was in Istria, the Zagreb area and on the island of Pag.

He, however, would not reveal any concrete names nor any specific details of "investigations" conducted by the State Prosecution so far.

Minister Sprlje said that a month ago he first contacted a member of an Austrian parliamentary commission of inquiry, Rainer Hable, who has focused on the Hypo scandal in Austria, which has also extended to the Balkans.

"According to the information we obtained from Austria and what we were able to ascertain ourselves regarding headlines in Croatia and activities conducted by Croatian institutions, it is obvious that the Hypo Group spread a large number of murky deals in Croatia over the past two decades which involved a certain number of Croatian citizens and interest groups," Sprlje told a press conference.

Therefore, in my capacity as minister, I want to publicly criticise certain state bodies for their passivity and urge them to start working and report what they have done regarding the financial transactions and business dealings by the Hypo Group in Croatia, which appear to be suspicious financial and real estate deals, Sprlje said.

He called on the Croatian National Bank (HNB), the Croatian Financial Services Supervisory Agency, and the Office for the Prevention of Money Laundering to provide statements of what has been undertaken in regard to the Hypo Group. He further called on the Tax Administration and the Tax Fraud Division to investigate the origin of the money of the people mentioned in the Hypo case.

The latest arm of the Hypo graft case in Croatia started coming to light following media reports that about ten years ago the bank allegedly paid 210,000 euros in kickbacks to three Croatian citizens each - Constitutional Court judge and former Croatian Democratic Union official Davorin Mlakar, State Electoral Commission member Josip Vresk, and Danijel Ropus - in exchange for services in the conversion of land which Hypo Bank bought in Simuni on the island of Pag and for influencing HNB executives so that the HNB would consent to the sale of Hypo Banka to the Bavarian BLB Bank.

Latest news

Syrian opposition rules out future role for President al-Assad

The Syrian opposition said Friday it would not accept any role for President Bashar al-Assad in the future of the war-torn country, reacting to a recent US shift saying that removing al-Assad is no longer a priority for Washington.

Russian Army integrates breakaway forces of Georgian province

Parts of the small fighting forces of the Georgian breakaway province of South Ossetia have been placed under Russian military control, Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu said on Friday.

Czech Republic's Pilsner Urquell beer is now Japanese

Japanese brewing company Asahi completed its takeover of the Czech brewery Pilsner Urquell on Friday, Asahi said in a statement.

Judge approves 25-million-dollar settlement of Trump University case

A US district judge on Friday approved a 25-million-dollar settlement of lawsuits and state fraud allegations against Trump University, the US president's now-defunct business venture.

Former Thai premier Thaksin to junta on reconciliation: 'Cut me out'

Former Thai prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra on Friday announced that he is not interested in the junta-led reconciliation process, three days after the junta handed him a half-a-billion-dollar tax bill for his past business deal.

Dalic: We welcome possible deal between Agrokor and banks

The government welcomes the possibility of an agreement being concluded between the Agrokor food company and creditor banks, and the bill on vitally important companies is not a fallback plan but the result of the government's care for the overall economic and financial stability of Croatia, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Economy Martina Dalic told a press conference in Zagreb on Friday.

Croatia, China sign action plan for cooperation in agriculture

The Croatian and Chinese ministries of agriculture on Friday signed an action plan for cooperation in the field of agriculture for the period 2017-2018, the Croatian ministry said in a statement.

ZSE indices up, Agrokor shares in focus of investor interest

The Zagreb Stock Exchange (ZSE) indices on Friday rose by more than 1.8%, with stocks of the Agrokor food and retail concern being in the focus of investor interest again.

Berlin police defend handling of Berlin market attacker

Berlin police defended themselves on Friday against accusations that they stopped surveillance on Berlin Christmas market attacker despite knowing in June 2016 he was dangerous.

Croatia, creditors tailor emergency measures to save tottering giant

Croatia's tottering retail and food giant Agrokor reached an agreement with its creditors, putting its debts standby and allowing it to continue working during emergency restructuring, the Croatian branch of Austria's Erste Bank said Friday.

Agrokor's creditors say standstill agreement to go into force today

A standstill agreement regarding the Agrokor concern's existing financial obligations to banks will take effect on Friday, additional capital will be injected into the concern in the coming days and the concern will be actively restructured, which includes a change of its management, it was said on Friday after a meeting between Agrokor's suppliers and creditor banks.

Palestinians, UN slam Israel's new settlement plan

Palestinians, Israeli activists and the UN lambasted the government of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Friday, a day after it gave the go-ahead for the first new West Bank settlement in a quarter of a century.

South Sudan rebels release three abducted foreign oil workers

South Sudanese rebels have released three foreign engineers they abducted in early March in the oil-rich Upper Nile region, Foreign Affairs Ministry official Mawein Makol Arik said on Friday.

Turkish opposition: Imprisoned party chief has gone on hunger strike

The head of Turkey's pro-Kurdish opposition party has launched a hunger strike from prison.

European leagues threaten Champions League schedule clashes

The European Professional Football Leagues (EPFL) on Friday threatened schedule clashes on Champions League matchdays in an ongoing dispute with the governing body UEFA.

Danish court revokes citizenship of IS volunteer

A Danish appellate court on Friday stripped a man of his Danish citizenship for volunteering to fight for the extremist Islamic State in Syria.

Banks and Agrokor agree on key elements of standstill agreement

Member banks of the coordinating committee of financial creditors and representatives of the Agrokor food company have in principle agreed on key elements of a standstill agreement, which is expected to be signed later today, announcing changes in the company's management team, Erste Bank said in a statement on Friday afternoon.

Syrian man on trial in Sweden; mosque attack labelled terrorism

A Syrian man went on trial Friday in the southern Swedish city of Malmo, charged with terrorism and arson after an attack last year on a building used as an assembly hall by Shiite Muslims.