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Croatia’s Clean-Up

Ivo Sanader, ex-PM of Croatia. Photo credit to NatoCroatia’s former prime minister, Ivo Sanader, was arrested in Austria on Friday. He’s wanted back home to face a corruption investigation, according to a report from the BBC.

Earlier this year, Germany’s Daimler AG settled FCPA-related charges with the DOJ and SEC for $185 million. A subsidiary, Daimler Export and Trade Finance GmbH, admitted paying about $6 million in bribes to sell fire trucks in Croatia. The payments — from 2002 through 2008 — went to officials in the Ministry of the Interior and employees at IM Metal, a government-linked company.

In September, Sanader’s former deputy prime minister, Damir Polančec, was charged in Croatia with embezzlement and money laundering. He’s denied the charges.

A Wikileaks story in the Guardian last week quoted Croatia’s chief prosecutor as telling U.S. embassy officials in January that Sanader, who resigned as PM last year and is now an independent MP, was the target of ongoing corruption investigations.

“Sanader has possible involvement in several cases,” the cable said, “but the one in which prosecutors have gathered the most evidence involves illegal mediation between his friends and Hypo Alpe Adria Bank Group of Austria. The Hypo Bank case indicates that Sanader allegedly arranged a loan of 4m Deutshce Markloan for his neighbour, Miroslav Kutle, in the 1990’s and received an 800,000 DM kickback from Kutle in return.”

Sanader fled Croatia for Austria after the leaked cable was published last week. He was arrested a day later on an Austrian motorway. The Croatian prosecutor’s office has stripped him of immunity.

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