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Two arrests in Croatia in a case of unlawful favouritism

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Please find the Croatian version below

 

The European Public Prosecutor’s Office (EPPO) in Zagreb has launched an investigation against two Croatian nationals for unlawful favouritism and incitement to unlawful favouritism. Both suspects were arrested yesterday, at the EPPO’s request.

It is thought that the first suspect, an employee of the Croatian Agency for SMEs, Innovations and Investments (hereinafter: HAMAG-BICRO), arranged for the second suspect to be awarded a public procurement contract entitled ‘Graphic design and production of promotional materials for the project BOND’ in 2020 and 2021. The second suspect is the owner of a graphic design business, who is the cousin of the first suspect. It seems that the second suspect requested the first suspect to award her this project, which has an estimated value of €113 000 (HRK 848 000.00) and was financed by the EU. Although an expert panel had been formally established to prepare and implement the public procurement procedure, the first suspect, from September to December 2020, prepared and implemented the public procurement procedure herself. In doing so, she specifically adjusted the tender conditions to the capacities and references of the business belonging to the second suspect.

Then, in January 2021, the first suspect initiated the launch of the public procurement procedure, and by the time of the deadline, four other bids, alongside the bid by the second suspect, had been received. Three out of the four other bids were more favourable, in terms of price. The first suspect took minutes of the review and evaluation of the bids. Those minutes were contrary to the recommendations from the expert panel, and it emerged that the first suspect had rejected all the other bids – except for the one by the business belonging to the second suspect – as non-compliant.

Consequently, the first suspect rated the bid by the graphic design business belonging to the second suspect as the most favourable regarding the price, and she proposed to the management of HAMAG-BICRO to award the contract to this specific bidder. The public procurement decision was issued on 30 March 2021.

After the State Commission for the Supervision of Public Procurement Procedures annulled the above-mentioned decision, it instructed HAMAG-BICRO to repeat the procedure. This time, the first suspect created a different version of the minutes of the review and evaluation of the bids, in which she repeatedly eliminated bids by all other candidates. She then shared her evaluation with the management of HAMAG-BICRO and they adopted a new decision on 30 July 2021: the bid by the business owned by the second suspect was selected again.

Following an appeal, the Croatian State Commission for the Supervision of Public Procurement Procedures annulled the decision just as it had done before. It instructed HAMAG-BICRO to repeat the procedure, and the first suspect attempted to overturn this decision by filing a complaint with the High Administrative Court of the Republic of Croatia. Once the court dismissed this complaint, the procedure of review and evaluation of bids was repeated, and another bidder was selected for the respective services.

The EPPO will propose to the investigative judge to order pre-trail detention against both suspects.

 

 

Dvije osobe uhićene su zbog sumnje na nezakonito pogodovanje

Ured europskog javnog tužitelja (EPPO) pokrenuo je istragu protiv dvoje hrvatskih državljana zbog kaznenih djela nezakonitog pogodovanja i poticanja na nezakonito pogodovanje. Obje osumnjičene osobe uhićene su jučer, 21. rujna 2022., na zahtjev EPPO-a. 

Sumnja se da je prvoosumnjičenica, kao djelatnica Hrvatske agencije za malo gospodarstvo, inovacije i investicije (u daljnjem tekstu: HAMAG BICRO), na traženje drugoosumnjičenika, vlasnika grafičkog obrta, s kojim je rodbinski povezana, tijekom 2020. i 2021. godine, tijekom postupka javne nabave usluge - „Usluga grafičkog oblikovanja i izrade promotivnih materijala za projekt BOND“, procijenjene vrijednosti 848.000,00 kuna (cca 113.000,00 EUR), financiranog sredstvima EU, poduzimala radnje u cilju da obrtu drugoosumnjičenika osigura dodjelu navedenog projekta. 

Tako je prvoosumnjičenica, iako je za pripremu i provedbu postupka predmetne javne nabave formalno bilo zaduženo Stručno povjerenstvo, u razdoblju od rujna do prosinca 2020., najprije sama pripremila dokumentaciju o predmetnoj nabavi, i to na način da  je uvjete prilagodila mogućnostima i referencama grafičkog obrta drugoosumnjičenika. 

Nakon toga, u siječnju 2021.,  prvoosumnjičenica je inicirala pokretanje predmetne nabave, a kada su u roku otvorenom za podnošenje ponuda, osim ponude grafičkog obrta drugoosumnjičenika, pristigle  ponude još četiri druga ponuditelja, od kojih su ponude tri ponuditelja bile cjenovno povoljnije, suprotno preporukama djelatnika društva angažiranog za podršku u provedbi javne nabave sukladno odgovarajućim zakonima, sastavila je Zapisnik o pregledu i ocjeni ponuda u kojem je sve pristigle ponude osim ponude grafičkog obrta drugoosumnjičenika odbila kao nepravilne.

Slijedom toga je ponudu grafičkog obrta drugoosumnjičenika ocijenila ekonomski najpovoljnijom i predložila Upravi HAMAG-BICRO-a donošenje odluke o odabiru iste, koja odluka je i donesena dana 30. ožujka 2021.

Nakon što je povodom žalbe jednog od ponuditelja Državna komisija za kontrolu postupaka javne nabave poništila navedenu odluku i predmet vratila na ponovno postupanje HAMAG-BICRO-u, prvoosumnjičenica je još jednom sastavila Zapisnik o pregledu i ocjeni ponuda u kojem je iznova eliminirala ponude svih ostalih ponuditelja  te je Uprava HAMAG-BICRO-a  dana 30. lipnja 2021., po njezinu prijedlogu, ponovno donijela odluku o odabiru ponude grafičkog obrta drugoosumnjičenika.

Kada je zatim, kao i u prethodnom  slučaju, Državna komisija za kontrolu postupaka javne nabave u žalbenom postupku ponovno poništila odluku o odabiru ponude grafičkog obrta drugoosumnjičenika i predmet vratila na ponovno postupanje HAMAG-BICRO-u, prvoosumnjičena je predmetno rješenje pokušala osporiti podnošenjem tužbe Visokom upravnom sudu Republike Hrvatske te je tek nakon neuspješnog ishoda iste, u ponovljenom postupku pregleda i ocjene ponuda nabava predmetnih usluga na koncu dodijeljena je jednom od ostalih ponuditelja.

EPPO će sucu istrage predložiti određivanje istražnog zatvora protiv oba osumnjičenika.