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Collapse of the food and retail group would threaten jobs across the Balkans.8 November 2018
Ivica Todoric, the founder of the giant Balkan retail conglomerate Agrokor, spent last night in a Croatian prison after being extradited from the UK.
Todoric, 67, fled to London last year, claiming Croatia was persecuting him.
Along with his two sons and 12 others including former top executives, he is accused of embezzling more than 1 billion kuna ($153 million) from the heavily indebted Agrokor, Total Croatia News reports.
Todoric has maintained his innocence. His wife, Vesna, told the N1 broadcaster he would prove he had not taken a single euro out of the company.
The case has rattled countries across the Balkans, where Agrokor-run supermarkets and other businesses employ tens of thousands of workers, The Associated Press writes.
Todoric was arrested in the UK last year under a European arrest warrant but was freed the same day after posting a bail of 100,000 pounds. A London court rejected his appeal against extradition last month.
Agrokor employs 60,000 people in the Western Balkans but is struggling under huge debts, and it is under state administration. Earlier this year, the Croatian government passed a law to keep the company out of bankruptcy as its debts rose to nearly $9 billion, Deutsche Welle reported.
Todoric accuses Croatia of a politically motivated campaign against him. After losing his appeal last month, he said the setback would not stop him “from exposing rampant corruption at the very top of the Croatian government.”
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