Possible Connections Found Between WIPO Misconduct and “a Dozen Serious Criminal Charges” Against EPO’s Željko Topić
Summary: Investigative journalism from Croatia and this week’s probe into WIPO misconduct (and subsequent attack on the whistleblowers, including legal threats against bloggers) help put together a broader picture
Having spent some time separating facts from rumours (there are plenty which we still investigate) about the EPO, we are now ready to proceed to something new, or rather a new kind of scandal that nobody seems to have paid attention to.
Based on what we are hearing (and that’s not just a rumour), there is immense pressure on managers at the EPO to pretend that they support the President, even if deep inside they don’t. As one anonymous comment put it yesterday: “Certainly the letter will be signed by the various Minnoye, Topić, Casado, Lutz, Bergot, Hannard, McGinley, Requena et al. and by a bunch of fearful PDs and directors. But the letter will not help them. On the contrary, it will prove that the staff was right in their protest. If Kongstad’s letter is not a joke, the crisis is unavoidable and BB must either give in or go. Of course, with cooperation money and with secret deals BB convince some delegations to vote against the draft letter and create new obstacles. But the conflict will remain unsolved and explode again after few weeks. A good advice to BB: Monsieur, pack your luggages and go back to Saint-Germain-en-Laye.”
This mirrors something that we saw before with Željko Topić (letters of intent and perhaps forced ‘apologies’ under threats). One reader told us: “I am hearing interesting rumblings about the senior management “petition” to the AC. Some PDs are giving the Directors a “free vote” as to whether they sign or not, others are telling them that if they don’t sign it there will be grave consequences.”
Yet another comment said: “It should also be investigated whether Mr Kongstad received monthly payments from a secret budget of department 4.3 if proven, it would be scandalous! Mr Del Pozo, PD Finances, should finally come out with the truth about all that he had to sign. Soon or later all the dirty tricks and manoeuvres will be uncovered!”
This is not yet known to us, so it should be classified as a rumour. There is definitely some kind of an H.R. crisis at the EPO right now. There’s no denying that [1, 2]. Tomorrow we are going to show a leaked message from Topić, relating to H.R. Today, however, we wish to share something different, also relating to Topić.
As vigilant readers may have already noticed (it’s everywhere in the news right now), WIPO is in big trouble. As EPO-funded media put it: “The long saga that has unfolded since then WIPO deputy director general James Pooley made a number of serious allegations against the organisation’s director-general Francis Gurry in a report of misconduct filed in April 2014 may be drawing to an end. News stories from several sources – including the Fox News website and The Register – state that a report into the claims undertaken by the UN’s Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS) has been submitted to Gabriel Duque, the chair of WIPO’s General Assemblies.”
Here is how WIPR put it
A joint subcommittee at the US Congress will hold a hearing this week on whistle-blowers and accountability at the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO).
The hearing, scheduled for tomorrow, February 24, is expected to reference the results of a pending UN investigation into WIPO and hear from ex-employees at the organisation.
James Pooley, a former WIPO deputy director, Moncef Kateb, ex-president of the staff association, and Miranda Brown, an adviser to WIPO’s director general Francis Gurry, will be witnesses.
So what does it have to do with EPO? Glad you asked. Apart from the fact that Battistelli may be the next Gurry, there is something interesting about Topić. A reader sent us the details. Another newly-translated Croatian article from 2012 helps support this reader’s claims.
“Referring to the recent Techrights posting,” wrote this reader, the “Dnevno article from 5 February 2016 includes a mention of the role of the former Ambassador to the UN in Geneva, Ms. Vesna Vuković, as part of the “diplomatic network” of the former Croatian President Ivo Josipović who failed to secure re-election in 2015.
“The English translation of another older article from 2012 which describes the role of Ms. Vuković in more detail. In view of the recent speculation about a link between Battistelli and the “Bygmalion affair” in France, it would be interesting to know whether any EPO funds got diverted to Croatia to support Josipovic’s re-election campaign in Croatia during 2014/2015.”
Here is the Dnevno article in English with our emphasis in yellow:
A DIPLOMATIC CHAMELEON
Vesna Vuković hosts Mr. Topić in Geneva despite having systematically reported him to the State Attorney’s Office and the USKOK*
[*The Croatian State Prosecutor’s Office for the Suppression of Organized Crime and Corruption]
Author: Darko Petričić
Wednesday, 4th April 2012 – 11:19
The new government is persistent in its strange attempts to bolster Mr. Željko Topić, against whom a dozen serious criminal charges have been filed. These charges not only appear to tally with each other but are dispersed over a broad timeline and encompass many diverse sections and articles of the Criminal Code. Neither the State Attorney’s Office (DORH) nor the Croatian State Prosecutor’s Office for the Suppression of Organized Crime and Corruption (USKOK), have taken any action so far for reasons known to only to themselves.
During the last month, we witnessed the attempts of the new government to make bizarre appointments starting with the cases of Mr. Ferenčak at JANAF and Mr. Kovačević at HEP and culminating in the notorious case of Željko Topić at the State Intellectual Property Office (DZIV).
The DZIV – identified but not yet fully explored as an international epicenter of corruption in Croatia
There would be nothing strange about all this, if it wasn’t for the small but interesting detail that a dozen serious criminal charges have been filed against Željko Topić which not only appear to tally with each other but are dispersed over a broad timeline and encompass many diverse sections and articles of the Criminal Code. For reasons known only to themselves neither the State Attorney’s Office nor the Croatian State Prosecutor’s Office for the Suppression of Organized Crime and Corruption (USKOK) have taken any action so far, although many insiders who are familiar with the affairs of the DZIV and its operations as well as with the activities of Željko Topić believe that the USKOK urgently needs to move into that state institution with their best agents in order to carry out a thorough investigation of the allegedly serious wrongdoings.
Among the criminal charges filed against Mr. Topić, and in this case also the representative of the international company Lufthansa in Croatia, are two complaints filed by the owner of the international AirPlus trademark. It is interesting to note that the current Ambassador of the Republic of Croatia to the UN in Geneva is the co-signatory of these criminal charges against the Director of the Croatian State Intellectual Property Office, and the representative of Lufthansa in Croatia, the attorney Andrew Matijević. In addition, over the phone, she advised some legal representatives of the owner of the Airplus trademark about what needed to be done. It might have been concluded that her main concern was to have these charges relating to the most prominent unlawful activities at the Croatian State Intellectual Property Office dealt with.
Furthermore, in the summer of 2010, Mrs. Vesna Vuković personally contacted the Deputy Attorney General, Mr. Dubravko Palijaš with urgent requests to accelerate the processing of the previously reported criminal acts. So it is patently obvious that Ms. Vesna Vuković was involved in the pressing of charges against of Mr. Topić and that she was personally motivated to do so. But that’s not the end of the story. Together with the owner of the Airplus trademark, in the summer of 2010 she co- signed the letters addressed to the USKOK and the National Council for Monitoring and Combating Corruption in Croatia and provided the legal framework of the complaint which requested the dismissal of the Director of Croatia Airlines, Mr. Ivan Mišetić, based on the published news that he simultaneously occupied two positions of control – one of which was in Buzin [near Zagreb], and the other on the Lufthansa Supervisory Board in Frankfurt am Main. The story about this case was first covered by the journalist Joseph Bohutinski in the weekly magazine “Business” and was later republished in several other media.
Following that complaint, Mr. Ivan Mišetić was dismissed in the autumn of 2010 and everything else, especially his public statement concerning the termination of his employment relationship with Croatia Airlines, is a trite and fabricated story for public consumption. However, nothing has happened since then in the competent institutions of the Republic of Croatia regarding the issue of criminal liability for damage to the national airline and there is still no information as to whether the person in question paid taxes in Croatia for the unlawful supervisory position which he held for many years in the German Lufthansa or whether his income from that source has remained “invisible” to our tax administration. To this day there is still no answer to the following scandalous question with its manifold implications for issues relating to politics, corruption and privatization: Is Lufthansa the hidden owner of Croatia Airlines and, if so, who facilitated this?
Vesna Vuković – moral and professional diplomatic ‘chameleon’ of the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs (MVEP)
What is particularly striking is the highly unusual behavior of our Ambassador in Geneva and her official position in relation to the above matters. As a matter of fact, from the date of her appointment until now, she has received the above mentioned Director of the State Intellectual Property Office, Mr. Željko Topić, as her guest on at least two occasions because her job description and activities include following the activities of an international institution called the “World Intellectual Property Organization” (WIPO) whose headquarters are located in Geneva and of which the Croatian State Intellectual Property Office is a member. The evidence of this can easily be found on the official websites the of the Croatian State Intellectual Property Office and the WIPO.
She knew – or at least she must have known – who Mr. Željko Topić was immediately after his first visit to Geneva. In accordance with the structure of the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs (MVEP) as well as from the point of view of security and information exchange with Zagreb headquarters, she should have been obliged at that point to write an official note and officially send it to the competent minister, with a copy to the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs (MVEP) Sector VII in charge of information and safety.
According to the Croatian Foreign Affairs Act, the general regulations of the MVEP and the professional obligations of any ambassador, they have to function as State Attorneys. For example if, when traveling by public transportation, they accidentally overhear a conversation describing actions which threaten the security of the Republic of Croatia or learn of a criminal offence and the names of persons associated with it, immediately upon arriving at their office or embassy, they must report this in writing to the competent state bodies according to their internal organization. The proof of this can be found in the thousands of diplomatic dispatches which are currently being published by Wikileaks in a manner which illustrates the aforementioned problem by means of the publication of confidential emails between the embassies of various countries around the world and the capitals of their countries of origin and vice versa.
Why did Ambassador Vuković failed to act in the appropriate manner? Considering that a key role in her irregular and unlawful appointment to the position of the Croatian Ambassador in Geneva at the beginning of last year was played by one of the advisors to President Josipović to the detriment of other candidates and considering that, according to the information available to us, the President of the Republic of Croatia is one of the main patrons of the incriminated DZIV Director, Ms. Vuković may very well have concluded that she should be at the disposal of her new “boss” even though he is only one of the shapers of Croatian foreign policy. This supposition is supported by the fact that the legal representative of the Director of the DZIV, Mr. Željko Topić, in one of the aforementioned criminal proceedings is Silvio Hraste from the Zagreb law firm on whose premises part of election headquarters of Ivo Josipović during his Presidential campaign was located, according to some unofficial sources.
For the moment it remains unclear as to how Minister Željko Jovanović was dragged into this dirty game and why, for more than a month now, there have been no official reports of the inspection of the Croatian State Intellectual Property Office by the competent ministries which was conducted more than a month ago on 2 February 2012. It took only one day to complete the inspection of the Croatian State Intellectual Property Office which was conducted under the control of Mr. Saša Zelenika, Deputy Minister to Mr. Jovanović. We do not know whether or not the leaders of the WIPO in Geneva are familiar with this first-class corruption scandal and its epicenter in Croatia. However, according to our sources this case may soon acquire an international dimension.
Before his election as President, Ivo Josipović was a frequent guest at the Croatian State Intellectual Property Office and in the office of the Director, Mr. Topić. Since he relied on the staff of the Croatian Composers’ Society (ZAMP) to fill the most important positions in the Croatian State Intellectual Property Office, he was certainly very interested in making sure that the international component responsible for intellectual property in Geneva was “covered” by a reliable person in the ambassadorial “network” as he himself likes to call it. All of this is the obvious proof of the operation of a parallel system of government inside our country and on an international level.
One has the impression that the current relations between the Pantovčak [the President's Office] and Geneva are based on the same pattern as the already famous “Čačić’s axiom” [attributed to the former Deputy Prime Minister Radimir Čačić]: “No Government, from now on you talk only to me! – and involve bypassing the official protocol at the Zrinjevac [the Ministry of Foreign Affairs]. There’s nothing new about this. As the first President of the Republic of Croatia, Franjo Tudjman, used to say: “Tie the horse where I tell you.” This sentence usually referred to Croatian foreign policy actions and the inter-Governmental appearances of the then Foreign Minister Mate Granić who was never completely trusted by Tudjman.
EPO H.R. must have been utterly poor for quite a while if it actually hired a man with dozens of criminal cases against him, according to the above article. On numerous occasions we already covered the UN and the Lufthansa aspects, though not WIPO. Readers can find coverage on these in older articles.
Our reader has remarked on the above article as follows:
As the article about Ms. Vukovic refers to the WIPO in Geneva, the links about the shenanigans in that organisation which are appended below might also be of interest:
There should be a live webcast here for anybody interested starting at 14:00 Washington time on 24 Feb (that’s later today):
Congress to quiz WIPO whistle-blowers
Where is the Report on the Allegations From WIPO Whistleblowers?
Secret UN report finds against controversial WIPO chief
Pressure grows on WIPO DG Gurry after submission of UN report and further explosive Pooley claims
Pooley’s written testimony can be found here:
“Based on my experience I can report to you that the vast majority of the people at WIPO are competent, dedicated and deliver as required, many of them well beyond that. But this belies a profoundly serious problem with governance. The agency, in my opinion, is run by a single person who is not accountable for his behavior. He is able to rule as he does only with the tacit cooperation of member countries who are supposed to act as WIPO’s board of directors. And he is ultimately protected by an anachronistic shield of diplomatic immunity.”
Miranda Brown’s testimony is here:
Interestingly enough, we found two of the above reports ourselves (IAM and WIPR), but didn’t quite imagine that other people also noticed them. There is now another interesting dimension to explore; if there a connection (even if slight/meager) between what happens in WIPO and what happens inside the EPO (except the legal threats sent to bloggers in order to silence them)? Željko Topić might be just one link among several more that we just don’t know about (yet). █