Croatia’s former Prime Minister Ivo Sanader has be sentenced to 10 years in prison for taking bribes, in a case closely watched by the EU.
Ivo Sanader, in office from 2003 to 2009, was convicted of taking millions of dollars in bribes from a Hungarian energy company and an Austrian bank.
The former prime minister denied wrongdoing at his trial.
Croatia, which hopes to join the EU in July of next year, is under pressure to tackle widespread corruption.
Correspondents say the EU is taking a harder line with the Balkan state than with Romania and Bulgaria, which were allowed to join the bloc despite struggling to address their problems with corruption.
Ivo Sanader, 59, is the most senior official to have been convicted of corruption in Croatia.
He was found guilty of accepting a bribe of $12.8 million (10 million euros) from the Hungarian oil company MOL in return for securing it controlling rights in Croatia’s state oil company Ina.
Croatia’s former Prime Minister Ivo Sanader has be sentenced to 10 years in prison for taking bribes
Unless Tuesday’s verdict is overturned on appeal, Croatia may review MOL’s shareholder agreement with Ina, Reuters news agency says.
In 1995, when Ivo Sanader was a deputy foreign minister, he received $695,000 in bribes for a credit deal with the Hypo Alpe Adria Group, which gave the Austrian bank a leading position in Croatia.
At the time, Croatia was still fighting its war of independence from Yugoslavia, meaning it had trouble accessing the international markets.
Prosecutors described Ivo Sanader’s action as “war profiteering”.
Ivo Sanader argued that the case against him was politically motivated.
He is also on trial, separately, for allegedly creating slush funds for his political party, the conservative Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ), by skimming off profits from state companies and manipulating public tenders.
The HDZ ruled the country for eight years until its defeat in elections in December 2011.
Pharmaceutical company Pfizer has paid the US government $60 million to settle charges alleging it paid millions of dollars in bribes to build its business in Europe and China.
Employees made the payoffs to secure sales contracts for Pfizer products, according to court filings.
Healthcare officials “improperly rewarded”, the Securities and Exchange Commission said.
The US drugs giant does not admit any guilt.
“Pfizer subsidiaries in several countries had bribery so entwined in their sales culture that they offered points and bonus programs to improperly reward foreign officials who proved to be their best customers,” said Kara Brockmeyer, chief of the SEC’s foreign enforcement division, which made the allegations.
Pfizer has paid the US government $60 million to settle charges alleging it paid millions of dollars in bribes to build its business in Europe and China
The countries involved are Bulgaria, China, Croatia, Czech Republic, Italy, Kazakhstan, Russia, and Serbia.
However, the SEC said Pfizer officials had not been aware of the payments, and that its good co-operation over the charges meant there was no need for criminal prosecution.
Pfizer first disclosed the misconduct to SEC and Justice Department officials in October 2004, and cooperated with the government’s investigation.
The charges against Pfizer were brought under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, which bars publicly traded companies from bribing officials in other countries to get or retain business.
In the past five years, the Justice Department has investigated a number of pharmaceutical and medical device companies that operate overseas in connection with the law.
Last year, Johnson and Johnson agreed to pay $70 million to settle civil and criminal charges of bribery brought by the Department of Justice.