The Slovenia Times

Fmr Merkur CEO Gets Five Years


Three co-defendants were also found guilty of abuse of office or complicity in the over EUR 9m worth defrauding of Merkur in the wake of the 2007 management buyout (MBO).

Former Merkur management board member Milan Jelovčan was sentenced to two years in prison, while former Merkur CFO Janja Krašovec and the boss of Kograd Igem Oto Brglez were each given a year and a half. All three of them were also given fines, payable within three months after the verdict becomes final.

In the trial that began in late May this year, the court established that the four executives caused Merkur over EUR 9m in damage through transactions involving a Merkur shopping centre, the sum which they gained unlawfully for the benefit of Merfin, the company serving as the vehicle for the 2007 management buyout.

Merkur gave up its pre-emptive right to buy the Primskovo shopping centre in favour of Merfin, which bought the shopping centre for EUR 10m with a loan it got from Merkur, but sold it only a few days later to the company Kograd Igem for EUR 21m. Kograd then sold the property back to Merkur.

The court found the Koroško-based construction company Kograd Igem responsible for the defrauding of Merkur, imposing a fine of EUR 100,000 on it.

The defence lawyers expressed indignation at the ruling and announced an appeal. An appeal may be filed within 15 days after receipt of the verdict.

"Kordež was the initiator and coordinator of the deal," judge Srečko Škerbec said as he declared the verdict, adding that the role of the other three defendants was not negligible either.

The court believes Jelovčan to have decisively contributed to the contentious deal by signing the contracts on the sale of the shopping centre, while Krašovec and Brglez willfully conspired to execute the transactions through which Merkur was defrauded.

Prosecutor Jože Kozina had proposed Kordež's fine be covered from his assets that have been temporarily seized by the court. Judge Škerbec explained today that Kordež's assets would remain secured by the time the ruling becomes final.

The judge said that the panel had followed the prosecution's proposal except in the case of sentence against Kordež, which the panel found too harsh. The prosecution demanded seven a half years in prison for Kordež.

The judge rejected the suggestion that the trial went too fast, arguing that hearings were held twice weekly as well as during summer break because of the freeze on the defendant's assets.

The court ordered all four defendants to pay for the costs of the trial, rejecting Krašovec's lawyer proposal to exempt her from payment with the argument that she is unemployed.

Proceedings against the fifth defendant, former supervisor of Merkur and CEO of Merfin Marta Bertoncelj, have been temporarily separated from the case after she was admitted to hospital.

In the meantime, new criminal reports have been filed against the former Merkur management on suspicion of defrauding.


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