Zagreb's powerful mayor indicted for abuse of power

The powerful mayor of Croatia`s capital Zagreb was indicted Friday for abuse of power as a wider investigation continues against him over millions in suspected fraud.

AFP| Updated: Feb 13, 2015, 22:21 PM IST

Zagreb: The powerful mayor of Croatia`s capital Zagreb was indicted Friday for abuse of power as a wider investigation continues against him over millions in suspected fraud.

Other charges could follow for Mayor Milan Bandic and his aides, who remain the prime suspects in illegal financing of his unsuccessful presidential bid and handing out patronage jobs, prosecutors said.

The alleged offences occurred between 2006 and 2014, with anti-graft prosecutors estimating losses to the state and city at some three million euros (over $3 million).

On Friday, the national anti-graft bureau USKOK charged Bandic and two aides with illegally using some 40,000 euros in city money to finance a citizens` signature gathering campaign.

Last year, a group called "In the Name of the Family" was collecting signatures for a nationwide referendum on changing electoral law and Zagreb illicitly financed its "leaflets, posters, commercials... and some 50 stands," a prosecutors` statement said.

It eventually cost the city`s budget at least 308,000 kunas (40,000 euros), prosecutors added. The move for a referendum eventually failed.

Bandic remains out of jail on two million euros bail, the highest ever paid in Croatia. He was arrested in October along with 15 other people, including his closest aides in connection with the corruption probes.

Although still formally the Zagreb mayor the 59-year-old has been banned from performing his duties as a condition of his release from official custody in November.

A former top official of the ruling Social Democrats, he was booted out of the party after deciding to run for president as an independent in 2009, a contest he lost.

The fight against corruption was key in the former Yugoslav republic`s joining the European Union in 2013.