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article imageBritain extradites Croatia tycoon to Zagreb: report

By AFP     Nov 7, 2018 in World

Britain on Wednesday extradited Croatian tycoon Ivica Todoric to Zagreb where he faces fraud allegations linked to the food and retail giant Agrokor he founded, media and a witness said.

Todoric boarded a regular Croatia Airlines flight in London, a passenger who requested anonymity told AFP.

The local Vecernji List daily paper also published a photo of the 67-year-old at Heathrow airport.

"I feel well. I'm ready to return to Croatia," Todoric, accompanied by police in civilian clothes, told a group of Croatian reporters at the airport, Vecernji List reported.

The plane was scheduled to land in Zagreb at 8:00 pm local time (1900 GMT), after which Todoric is expected to be transferred to a prison.

Officials in London and Zagreb did not comment on his extradition, while a police spokeswoman in Zagreb told AFP it was a "confidential procedure."

Todoric was arrested in London a year ago on a European arrest warrant issued by Zagreb for allegedly falsifying accounts to hide huge debts at Agrokor, which he founded in 1976.

Todoric and 14 other people, including his two sons and other former top company executives, are under investigation for alleged abuse of trust, forging of official documents and failure to keep proper business records.

Two weeks ago the former CEO, known in Croatia as 'Boss', lost a bid to appeal against his extradition before magistrates in London.

Retail and food giant Agrokor is the biggest employer in the Balkans, with 60,000 workers and a large network of suppliers providing tens of thousands of more jobs.

The Zagreb-based company was saved from bankruptcy earlier this year after creditors backed a multi-billion euro debt deal.

Agrokor was weighed down by debts of 58 billion kunas ($8.9 billion, 7.8 billion euros) accumulated through aggressive expansion and expensive borrowing.

Todoric has repeatedly said the allegations are politically motivated and accused senior leaders in the Croatian government of orchestrating the takeover of Agrokor.

The issue has posed the most serious challenge to the government of conservative Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic since it took power in 2016.

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