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'Not one euro stolen or hidden' at Croatia's Agrokor, owner says

Author Maja Garaca
'Not one euro stolen or hidden' at Croatia's Agrokor, owner says Ivica Todoric

ZAGREB (Croatia), October 10 (SeeNews) - Agrokor owner Ivica Todoric has said that nothing in Croatia's ailing food-to-retail concern was 'stolen or hidden' after the results of an audit showed that over 20 billion kuna ($3.1 billion/2.7 billion euro) had to be written off its capital.

"We will analyse the financial stunts they used to write off billions in the coming period, but I can safely say, not one euro was stolen or hidden", Todoric said in a post on his blog following the release of Agrokor's 2015 and 2016 financial statements audited by PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP on Monday.

The results showed that Agrokor's liabilities exceeded its capital by 14.5 billion kuna at the end of 2016. They also revealed that Todoric had taken out loans from the concern which he never repaid. He, however, claims that all his obligations towards the concern have been met. 

"This is all just fog. A single euro is not missing and Agrokor's debt is known," Todoric insisted.

The receiver of Croatia's Agrokor, Ante Ramljak, however, said on Monday he has filed criminal charges against Agrokor's management believed to be responsible for the discrepancies. He disclosed no names but said the situation is hardest on Todoric.

"The figures are shocking. I don't know how they were kept quiet all these years," Ramljak said.

The reported capital of the Agrokor Group has been cut by 10.5 billion kuna for 2015, or by a total of 22.1 billion kuna when the results for 2016 are included, Ramljak added.

The receiver explained that the reported capital at the end of 2014 was 7.192 billion kuna. From there, in 2015 and 2016 combined, accounting irregularities shaved 5.6 billion kuna off Agrokor's capital, value adjustments took a further 10.844 billion kuna and other impacts on equity totalled 5.248 billion kuna.

Also on Monday, in a separate blog post, Todoric said he will report Ramljak to the state attorney's office, DORH, for allegedly operating outside of the law.

In April, Agrokor named PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP as auditor of its 2016 financial statements after preliminary probes revealed that potential accounting errors might have been committed.

Agrokor has been in financial turmoil since January when Moody's downgraded its corporate family rating on Croatia's largest privately held company. Following Moody's decision, Agrokor pulled out of a syndicated loan deal it had struck with several international lenders, which sent the price of its bonds on international markets into a downward spiral.

In April, the Croatian parliament adopted a law allowing the government to appoint temporary administrators in companies of systemic importance to lead a restructuring process at the request of the companies' creditors or the debtors themselves. Todoric was stripped of his managerial rights under the law popularly known as Lex Agrokor.

(1 euro=7.50134 kuna)