UK authorities have extradited Ivica Todoric, the founder of a deeply indebted food and retail company, to Croatia.
A year after Todoric was detained in London on embezzlement charges, the 67-year-old landed in Zagreb on a commercial flight from London and was escorted by police to a prison in the Croatian capital.
Todoric is accused in Croatia of mismanaging the Agrokor company and embezzling millions. He was arrested in the capital a year ago under a European Arrest Warrant, but was set free on a £100,000 bail the same day he was arrested.
He has maintained his innocence, claiming that he was the victim of rampant corruption at the heart of power in his country. A London court rejected his appeal last month and agreed to send him to Croatia.
Agrokor is a massive concern whose tentacles stretch throughout the Balkans. It employs 60,000 people and accounts for 15% of Croatia’s GDP.
It has collapsed under the weight of 6 billion euro (£5.23 billion) in debt, including a disputed sum owed to two Russian state-run banks, Sberbank and VTB. It was put into state administration a year ago. Agrokor creditors this year approved a settlement deal that includes giving the two banks a stake of over 46% to avoid bankruptcy.
It has prompted fears in Croatia that the Kremlin has been strategically trying to increase its political influence in the European Union’s newest member through Agrokor’s troubles.