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MOL: Sanader found guilty of bribery and abuse of power

MOL: Sanader found guilty of bribery and abuse of power

21.11.2012 10:26

A Croatian district court has found former PM Ivo Sanader guilty of taking a bribe of € 10m from MOL between 2008 and 2009, Bloomberg reported. In exchange, he arranged with a “highly positioned” MOL manager to give the Hungarian company controlling rights over INA in a January 2009 shareholding agreement, Judge Turudic said. Sanader was also found guilty of taking a bribe of € 3.6m from an Austrian bank between 1994 and 1995, when he was deputy foreign minister. Judge Ivan Turudic sentenced Sanader to 10 years in prison. Both the defendant and prosecutors have the right to appeal, in which case the Supreme Court would deliver a final verdict. As has happened several times in the past, MOL denied any wrongdoing and categorically rejected the accusations.

Our view:
Although the final verdict has yet to be reached by the Supreme Court (and we are in the dark about how long this might take) there are some conclusions we can draw. First, we have little doubt that MOL’s accusations will have some implications in high-profile politics between Croatia and Hungary, with the outcome being unpredictable and hence unfortunate. Second, even if MOL is found not guilty, the firm’s reputation could be tarnished as it has been forced into a defensive position, which is never positive for an investment case. Third, given the strong political headwinds and surrounding uncertainty, MOL may be less inclined to commit significant capital in Croatia and thus the much awaited and badly needed efficiency improvements may be introduced more slowly than originally expected. Obviously, if MOL is found guilty, shareholders may face severe consequences: the shareholder agreement could be modified in a way that MOLloses operating control over its flagship entity INA, which generated roughly one-third of the group’s clean CCS EBITDA in 9M12.

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