Drugi jezik na kojem je dostupan ovaj članak: Bosnian
Source: Jutarnji list
Author: Gordana Grgas
Bankruptcy trustees of the two zombie companies in the system – Digitel Communications and Digitel Media Services (DMS) – are trying these days to charge some more debts and bring the cases finally to their end, sighing because of the cobwebs they found in these companies. They are uncertain how legal was the spilling of business and money from one company to another (there were a dozen), which they identified as the modus operandi, but they conclude that in terms of detecting and solving this drama they are powerless, and way too late. They can hardly come by the relevant numbers and invoices, most of the debts are outdated, it’s like digging in a robbed warehouse. After a bankruptcy hearing in Zagreb, somehow on the sidelines, a representative of the State Attorney’s Office asked bankruptcy administrator of the DMS Anto Majić why there were no criminal reports, and he answered with the question: “And what were you doing?” There was no talk of it further. Otherwise, just before the opening of bankruptcy proceedings, 744 cessions were conducted, and some of them are still in court.
Digitel and its managers went a full circle: from the image of the geniuses and trendsetters with whom everyone wanted to work, with connections with everyone in Croatia (and this was especially true of Vladimir Smolec and Aljoša Roksandić), to people whose names people avoid mentioning. Part of the demise, as some of their former associates said, is that they got “hooked”, they were excessive in everything, they got too deep in debt, and all of that was aggravated by the recession, cuts to marketing budgets, and bankruptcies of some important clients like Fižulić’s Magma and others.
In a way, Digitel was a version of Agrokor, just without a special “lex” introduced: all fell apart under market pressure. Actually, the National Development Bank, HBOR, was supposed to serve as a hand of salvation, but this maneuver failed. In December 2012, HBOR’s management approved a credit of 35 million HRK to the Digitel Communications – with an additional loan in the same amount from Digitel’s largest creditor, RBA, according to the Shared Guarantee Program – but in February 2013 the loan was halted.
The re-examination of HBOR’s credit agreements was initiated when SDP’s Slavko Linić and Gordan Maras were in its Supervisory Board, so the gossips were brewing that this was a political decision. Linić and Maras, of course, deny that, and both of them emphasize that Digitel’s business was problematic, as well as securing this loan. Referring to the banking secrecy, RBA doesn’t want to talk about this, or about the other Digitel loans. According to claims from April 2014, banks and financial institutions were claiming HRK 75.7 million from Digitel Communications, the highest amount being owed to RBA (HRK 46 million), while debts on basis of guarantees and other factors amounted to HRK 22 million (for RBA loans given to two other Digitel companies).
What was left
The empire shattered dramatically and chaotically, but in considerable media silence – although Digitel’s business was strongly linked to leading TV and news outlets, including the former Jutarnji list publisher EPH, owned by Ninoslav Pavić – bringing long-standing partners into trouble. The collocutors tell us that Roksandić especially infuriated some of them, because he couldn’t restrain his wastefulness even as he demanded write-offs, while managers of media companies were being left without generous bonuses because of Digitel.
The most agile Digitel managers survived even this shipwreck remaining in the sector: they founded business in PR (Kristina Laco, Violeta Colić, Ozren Kanceljak), marketing (Nikola Vrdoljak, Martina Pintarić), events (Tomo Ricov) or TV production (Dario Vince). Smolec got a good payoff, and now runs a consultancy company, and Roksandic evaporated in the heat of 2014, fleeing to the United States, where he allegedly worked for the lawyer-lobbying house Patton Boggs where one of the partners is Luka Mišetić, and the former HDZ’s foreign minister and ambassador Miomir Žužul is a consultant. Little by little, last year he began his quiet return to Croatia with new businesses. Some have recognized his handwriting even in the blogging efforts of the fugitive Ivica Todorić from London, and recall their joint photo from 2011 when they announced that they had made a strategic partnership.
It wouldn’t come as odd if at some point Digitel ends up as script for a book or a TV series, something like the “Rest in peace” crime series, whose third season was just completed for the HTV by the Ring Production, owned by Darijo Vince, and which critics described as a Croatian noire. With a bit of a bitter grin, Vince tells us that this is possible. He certainly thinks there’s potential for a transient dramatic drama. In his case spiced up with a rainbow, because Roksandić never paid him off his share, and he left Digitel in 2013, when he bought the filming rights to “Rest in Peace”. He’s not in contact with Roksandić today, and says he doesn’t even have his phone number. Even if he did, it wouldn’t do him much good: the former PR expert usually doesn’t answer his phone, or answers just once. He kindly promised us the answers to our questions, but he never sent them, nor did he answer our calls. Vladimir Smolec on the other hand mulled the decision for a long time, but eventually decided to remain silent, considering Digitel is still a contaminated area, for him or others.