Electricity

Croatia’s power utility HEP Group to get new board president

frane barbaric HEP plenkovic resign natural gas

Frane Barbarić and Andrej Plenković (Photo: HEP)

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December 5, 2023

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Published:

December 5, 2023

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After six years, state-owned power utility Hrvatska Elektroprivreda will get a new president of its management board. The Government of Croatia accepted the resignation of Frane Barbarić, who stepped down after it announced it would dismiss him.

Frane Barbarić, president of the Management Board of HEP Group since January 2018, has been widely criticized for months over a scandal concerning fraudulent sales of natural gas. Local media and the opposition claimed the company suffered a loss. Prime Minister Andrej Plenković was also under attack because he refused to replace him.

Barbarić later also came under public scrutiny in connection to a villa on the island of Hvar. Things started to unfold last week after the Municipal State Attorney’s Office Split filed an indictment against him for illegal construction of the building.

On Sunday, Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said new circumstances have occurred with the charges and that Barbarić cannot keep his position.

Plenković: He did something that should not be done in his position

He added that the Supervisory Board of HEP Group and the government would dismiss Barbarić in line with the procedure. Plenković stressed it has nothing to do with the natural gas affair and that Barbarić is leaving solely because of illegal construction.

He was the head of the country’s largest public company, the prime minister pointed out and argued that “what happened is obviously outside of the scope of what someone in that position should do.”

In addition, Plenković praised HEP Group for its role in overcoming the energy crisis.

Barbarić: I was sentenced before trial

One day later, the government said it proposed to the Supervisory Board of HEP to recall Barbarić though that he resigned in the meantime.

After he quit, Frane Barbarić claimed a long-term and carefully orchestrated negative campaign in the media has created an image that he was guilty of illegal construction and that he should have been arrested and detained long ago.

“Everyone has the right, including Frane Barbarić, to a fair trial, and no one has the right to claim that someone is guilty of a criminal offense before the court has made a final verdict,” according to the announcement sent to the media by his lawyer.

Of note, the government appointed Barbarić for a four-year term late last year.

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