Parliamentary parties reluctant to disclose their creditors

Not even after the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) was shocked by a revelation that the party took out loans from private companies, are other parliamentary parties willing to disclose who their creditors are or conditions under which they have taken their loans.

The Social Democratic Party (SDP) "takes loans only from commercial banks and under commercial terms and conditions, just like citizens," the party said in answer to Hina's inquiry about its loans listed in the 2015 state audit report.

That report notes that at the end of 2014, SDP had total liabilities in the amount of HRK 16,364,982, and HRK 4,781,403 of that amount was for loans. The loans were taken for various reasons such as HRK 2,700,000 for election campaigning, HRK 1,860,714 to cover overdrafts and HRK 220,689 as a loan to the party as a legal entity. The report also says that the SDP's loan liabilities as of 30 April 2015 amounted to HRK 1,220,689.

The Croatian People's Party (HNS) too responded to Hina's queries, saying that "back in 2000 it financed its election campaign with loans from commercial banks and is regularly repaying all its liabilities."

"The party also took loans to cover its regular business operations, which it is also duly repaying," the HNS said, adding that it was operating in accordance with the law and regularly submitting mandatory reports to all the relevant institutions.

The Croatian Party of Rights - AS (HSP AS) also declined to disclose from whom and under what terms it had taken out loans.

"All our knowledge about the period that you are referring to for 2013 and 2014 comes from the state audit. In that period the authorised persons for finances in the party were Ruza Tomasic and Denis Bevanda, who are no longer members of our party. After they left we found a rather messy financial situation and since then we have regularly settled all our liabilities," HSP-AS told Hina.

At the end of 2014, political parties presented a total of HRK 23,098,673 in liabilities for loans, the most significant amount of HRK 22,753,026 relating to six parliamentary parties (HDZ, HNS, HSP AS, HDSSB, IDS, SDP). 

The parties, however, did not wish to publicly present any details of their loans and generally said that they operated in accordance with the law and regularly settled their liabilities, as shown by state audit reports.

The GONG non-governmental organisation says that parties should be obliged to make public information about their loans and in that way restore the trust of citizens which has been seriously shaken and that would also reduce any room for corruption.

"Parties have to publish that. If they do not wish to, that is like refusing to disclose who their donors are," Dragan Zelic of GONG said.

Zelic disagrees that political parties are not required by law to disclose their creditors. He warned that the law on financing political parties notes that they are required to keep their accounts in accordance with regulations governing non-profit organisations.

"We are a non-profit organisation and our independent auditor says that our financial reports have to indicate details of all our loans," Zelic told Hina.

The question of debts by political parties came into light after the owner of the Prvo Plinarsko Drustvo (PPD) gas company Pavao Vujnovac said in an interview with the Nacional weekly that the HDZ owed him HRK 4.2 million and that it was in arrears with repayments.

Andrej Plenkovic, who is set to take the helm of the HDZ, asked the party's secretary-general Domagoj Ivan Milosevic to submit a report on the party's creditors and the document HDZ  unofficially presented to Hina indicated that the party had taken loans from private companies such as PPD as well as Viadukt and DIV. The party also took two loans from Zagrebacka Banka and a short-term loan from Partner Banka.

Last update: Tue, 12/07/2016 - 12:40

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