Slovenia: Criminal liability of Petrol’s former management confirmed by audit

, SEE Energy News

Based on the decision of Petrol’s Assembly of 12 December last year, BDO Revizija reviewed thirty transactions over one million euros concluded between 1 January 2015 and 24 October 2019 for the acquisition and disposal of long-term financial investments, other types of investments and sponsorship agreements.

The special audit of Petrol’s main transactions from the beginning of 2015 until the departure of the former management led by Tomaz Berlocnik in October last year found irregularities in eight of the 30 audited transactions. The auditor considers some of the deficiencies to be grounds for liability for damages and has also identified elements of possible criminal liability.

The audit found irregularities in transactions related to Mbills, Zagorski Metalac, Petrol Belgrade, Vjetroelektrarne Glunca, Petrol Hidroenergija, Atet, BH Petrol Oil Company. In these cases, it was a purchase of property or business shares of these companies and, in some cases, recapitalizations or the establishment of companies. Irregularities found are related to the violation of the provisions regarding the obligatory consent of the Supervisory Board, non-compliance with the required level of diligence or underestimation of the economic justification of the transaction.

In several cases, the auditor believes that the company will have to prove damages in possible proceedings against former members of the management board by using the opinions of experts from relevant economic professions or business appraisers.

In reviewing the transactions, the auditor also identified elements that could also justify possible criminal liability by the former management. Due to the interest of possible legal proceedings, the circumstances surrounding this review have not been specifically disclosed.

Last October, CEO of Slovenian energy group Petrol Tomaz Berlocnik, along with another two members of the management, have unexpectedly resign after the meeting of the company’s Supervisory Board. According to Slovenian media, the consensual termination of the mandate was due to Supervisory Board’s disagreement with Berlocnik’s investment policy and suspicious projects in Croatia related to the acquisition of part of Crodux, especially since the company ran these deals without the approval of the Supervisory Board and state-owned SDH which holds 30 % stake in Petrol. Media reported that there was a disagreement over the investment policy in Slovenian and Western Balkans markets. Reportedly, Berlocnik insisted on three large investments in the region, which would be financed via bond issue, but that was unacceptable for the Supervisory Board and the representatives of the state.