January 30, 2012 / 10:01 AM / 8 years ago

Hungary prosecutors say MOL had no role in INA bribe

* Hungary prosecutors end investigation into MOL/INA case

* Inquiry follows indictment of former Croatian PM Sanader

* Croatian prosecution said MOL paid bribe to Sanader in 2008

BUDAPEST, Jan 30 (Reuters) - Hungarian prosecutors have closed an investigation into an alleged bribery case related to oil and gas group MOL in Croatia as no crime was committed by MOL or its executives, the prosecutors said on Monday.

In September Croatia indicted its former Prime Minister Ivo Sanader for taking a bribe from Hungary’s MOL in 2008 in exchange for securing MOL’s dominant position in Croatian oil and gas company INA.

The Croatian state prosecution has said Sanader took 10 million euros ($13.1 million) from MOL. The prosecutors have also handed over documents implicating “a high ranking MOL official” to Hungarian authorities for further investigation.

Local media in Croatia have said the investigation targeted MOL’s Executive Chairman, Zsolt Hernadi. Sanader has denied any wrongdoing. MOL has also rejected all allegations of bribing Sanader.

Hungarian prosecutors said on Monday their investigation against an unidentified person on suspicion of bribery, launched in July 2011, did not produce any evidence that would show MOL had a role in the bribery case.

They started the investigation after Croatian prosecutors in June 2011 asked for the questioning of MOL’s chairman, saying that two Cyprus-based firms in June 2009 paid 10 million euros to Sanader for securing a dominant position for MOL in INA.

“Having evaluated a great amount of data collected (during the investigation) the Central Bureau of Investigation and Prosecution stated that the crime raised by the Croatian prosecution did not materialise in MOL’s circle of interest,” the Hungarian prosecution said in a statement.

The two Cyprus-based firms which allegedly handed over the bribe do not belong to MOL’s business interests but to a major Russian investor, it said, without naming the investor.

“...No crime was committed in the interests of MOL, by its executives, therefore we ended the investigation due to a lack of criminal actions,” the prosecution said.

MOL owns 47.46 percent of INA and holds an option for further 1.6 percent. The Croatian government owns 44.84 percent. Last year MOL failed in its attempt to become the majority owner of INA and relations between the two biggest shareholders have been strained recently over management rights.

$1 = 0.7615 euros Reporting by Krisztina Than, Editing by Mark Potter

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