ZAGREB: Former Croatian prime minister Ivo Sanader was sentenced to 10 years in prison yesterday for taking bribes from two foreign companies, becoming the highest state official to be convicted of corruption in the future EU member state.

Croatia is due to join the EU in July 2013 and Sanader’s conviction is likely to be seen as evidence it is cracking down on corruption. Its efforts to fight crime and graft are being carefully monitored before it formally joins the bloc.

A Zagreb county court found Sanader, 59, guilty of agreeing in 2008 to accept a payment from Hungary’s energy group MOL of e5 million in exchange for granting it full management rights over Croatia’s oil concern INA.

The ruling, against which Sanader is likely to appeal, sent MOL’s shares 2.6 percent down in Budapest, amid concerns that it might prompt Croatia to review MOL’s shareholder agreement with INA. – Reuters