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A highly sensitive case

July 8th, 2011

Whose interest might it be to implicate the Chief Executive Officer of Hungary’s oil multinational MOL in a Croatian corruption scandal, which  also involves former PM Ivo Sanader? Hungarian commentators speculate.As BudaPost reported earlier, the Croatian press suspects a bribe behind the decision of an earlier Croatian government to allow MOL to exercise the management rights of INA as its biggest shareholder (49 per cent). Croatia’s Public Prosecutor has requested assistance from his Hungarian counterpart regarding an investigation into the Croatian oil company INA – Hungary’s Chief Public Prosecutor said on Wednesday.

Népszabadság is in no doubt that the Croatian side is going after Zsolt Hernádi, the Chief Executive of Hungarian gas company MOL. “This is a highly sensitive case” – writes the left-wing daily, underlining that the CEO of the company must be (and must be seen to be) above reproach. “Hernádi is not MOL, even though he was a key player in the rise of the concern,” – notes Népszabadság, and quotes Tuesday’s comment by Hungarian PM Viktor Orbán, that the government “does not want to intervene or play any role in the matter.”  “Croatia’s prosecutor wants Hernádi, while the Hungarian goverment wants to keep MOL’s status as a regional multinational company,” – writes Népszabadság, and wonders whether there will come a time when the price to pay for that will be Zsolt Hernádi.

 The financial daily Világgazdaság believes that someone is trying to put the brakes on the regional expansion of both MOL and the Hungarian economy. “For energy security reasons, it is in Hungary’s utmost interest to help MOL maintain its international influence” – stresses the newspaper, with reference to the important regional role of the Adriatic ports.

Világgazdaság believes those interested in stopping the Hungarian oil concern’s expansion fall into three main categories. It might be a country with an oil company of similar size and influence (e.g. Austria) or one trying to protect it’s Hungarian and regional influence from the rise of MOL (e.g. Russia). The third category might be a country which believes that the Hungarian company hurts it’s national interests. “Croatia would be an example of this, even though MOL has invested 800 billion HUF [appr. USD 4 billion] into an inefficient company with out-of-date facilities,” – writes Világgazdaság.

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