21 Nov 2012

Former PM convicted of corruption

5:29 am on 21 November 2012

Former prime minister Ivo Sanader of Croatia has been convicted of corruption and sentenced to 10 years in prison.

Sanader, 59, was found guilty of taking bribes from a Hungarian oil company and an Austrian bank.

The former prime minister, whose six years in office ended in 2009, denied wrongdoing at his trial. He is the most senior official to have been convicted of corruption in Croatia.

He was found guilty of accepting a bribe of $US12.8 million from MOL, a Hungarian oil company, in return for securing it controlling rights in Ina, the state oil company in Croatia.

The BBC reports Sanader also received $US695,000 in bribes in 1995 when was a deputy foreign minister, for a credit deal with the Hypo Alpe Adria Group of Austria, which gave the bank a leading position in Croatia.

Sanader argued that the case against him was politically motivated. Croatia hopes to join the EU in July of next year, and is under pressure to tackle widespread corruption.