The Conflict of Interest Commission on Wednesday decided that Deputy Prime Minister and HDZ leader Tomislav Karamarko was in a conflict of interest when he had been expressing his personal views and suggestions that Croatia should withdraw from the arbitration proceedings with MOL over the Croatia's oil and gas company INA, and that this was evident when Karamarko expressed his opinions at the HDZ-Bridge Council for Cooperation in early May.
The Commission established that Karamarko has found himself in a situation when his private interests could influence his performance in the government and could have the greater weight than public interests, which is why he should not be involved in decision-making regarding the INA-MOL arbitration.
Croatia's government and MOL, INA's two major stakeholders, are involved in two arbitration proceedings over their relations in INA.
The Commission has inquired the potential conflict of interest in which Karamarko may be due to business relations between the Drimia company, owned by his wife Ana, and the Peritus Savjetovanja company owned by Josip Petrovic, MOL lobbyist and consultant, for two years after Karamarko took the helm of the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) and due to the friendship between Karamarko and Petrovic.
"Expressing his personal views and suggestions for Croatia's withdrawal from the arbitration proceedings between Croatia and MOL, particularly at a May 5, 2016 meeting between the (HDZ-led) Patriotic Coalition and the Bridge (party), Karamarko was in a conflict of interest," the state monitoring body said after its two-hour discussion on the matter on Wednesday.
Personal and business relations that have existed between the office-holder (Karamarko) and Josip Petrovic put the office-holder Karamarko in a situation when his private interests can affect his impartiality in performing his duties as the First Deputy Prime Minister and, likewise, he may be in a conflict of interest which is why he cannot participate in decision-making regarding the arbitration proceedings," concluded the Commission, which is established by the parliament and which includes independent experts.
Therefore the Commission holds that Karamarko cannot participate in adopting any other decisions regarding INA.
The Commission also notes that upon taking office as Deputy Prime Minister Karamarko failed to declare properly business relations that connect him with Petrovic and Petrovic's "Peritus savjetovanje" that performs a series of intelligence and consulting services for MOL. According to the Commission, this was evident when reporters asked Karamarko to expound his relationship with Petrovic, however, Karamarko failed to act in accordance with principles of preserving his trustworthiness and confidence among the public.