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04.19.16

EPO Integrity on the Line: The Story of Željko Topić’s Controversial Diploma – Part II

Posted in Deception, Europe at 6:07 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: Croatian media coverage about some of the scandals as they were seen 4 years ago (around the time Battistelli snatched Topić out of Croatia to become his right-hand man)

IN part one of this series we looked at how EPO Vice-President Željko Topić got accused of forgery. We are not suggesting that it was indeed forgery; we are just presenting what is/was known and who says/said what.

“We are not suggesting that it was indeed forgery; we are just presenting what is/was known and who says/said what.”“These matters were reported in the Croatian press at the time,” told us a person who is responsible for translating some reports, or for putting together some translations. “See for example the article dated 26 April 2012 which was written by the journalist Ilko Ćimić and published in Index.hr.”

Original Croatian text can be found here and below is the English translation with highlights in yellow:

Index reveals – Jovanović investigates the SIPO: Where did the million kuna go? Who was driving the (overly) expensive cars?

Željko Jovanović
Željko Jovanović, Minister of Science

Author: I. Ćimić
Date: 26 April 2012

Index is in a position to reveal that Željko Jovanović, the Minister of Science, Education and Sports, recently sent a request to the Ministry of Finance for a budgetary audit of the State Intellectual Property Office (SIPO), for the period from 1 March 2008 to 22 December 2012 in order to look into a series of allegations about the actions of the controversial SIPO Director, Mr. Željko Topić. The Ministry of Science also found a number of irregularities during their investigation of SIPO’s operations and has requested the assistance of the State Inspectorate and the Labour Inspection! While the Ministry was in the process of investigating the actions of the controversial Director against whom criminal proceedings are pending before the Zagreb County Court, SIPO officially announced that he was stepping down from the position of SIPO Director to take up the position of Vice-President at the European Patent Office based in Munich!

SIPO was responsible for the oversight of ZAMP

For the moment, the question seems to be how much the European institutions really know about Mr. Topić’s track-record as SIPO Director and whether or not they were informed of the charges pending against him. It would also be interesting to know to what extent the credit for his appointment can be attributed to Croatian diplomatic lobbying conducted by the Pantovčak [i.e. the Office of the Croatian President].

We wish to remind our readers that the SIPO is the official institution responsible for the oversight of the Croatian Composers’ Society and its professional service ZAMP. However, it was recently established during the handover to the new government that for years nobody has properly supervised the operations of the SIPO itself. The role of the Director Topić is of key importance here because it was he who responded to a query from the Ministry of Finance as to whether the business operations of ZAMP were actually carried out by a private company Emporion. At the time, Topić claimed that everything was done in accordance with the law.

The Ministry will specifically check the diploma of Director Topić

According to a document in the possession of Index – which can be seen in the picture gallery – Jovanovic’s Ministry carried out its own investigation into the work of SIPO to follow up on some of the allegations against the controversial Director.

The document itself does not contain any spectacular revelations, but it raises a number of questions about Topić’s management of the SIPO as it shows how assistance is being sought from other government agencies such as the State Inspectorate to shed light on Željko Topić’s controversial reign as SIPO Director.

Amongst other things, Mr. Jovanović’s Ministry questioned whether Topić had the educational qualifications needed to lead the SIPO. It was established that the Office which deals with the protection of industrial property and copyright and related rights is managed by an economist who claims to have graduated from the Faculty of Economics in Banja Luka with a master’s degree. Topić sent to the Ministry only a copy of his master’s diploma without the date of issue, and such evidence was considered insufficient so the Ministry requested the Faculty in Banja Luka to kindly send “relevant documents and a statement regarding the academic qualifications of Master of Science, Mr. Željko Topić”.

Disputed payments of around HRK 1m for “unnecessary” work

The Ministry also investigated allegations concerning the expenditure of around one million kuna, which the SIPO paid for intellectual and personal services. It was discovered that some of the money was paid as compensation for participation in organizing professional examinations for authorized representatives in the field of industrial property rights. The problem is that the candidates only paid 4,000 kuna in fees for these professional examinations whereas the total gross compensation paid to the chairman, deputy secretaries and members of the examination committee exceeded the amount that was paid by the candidates.

Another part of the disputed expenditure was on payments for service and copyright contracts which appear not to have been in accordance with the regulations. According to the opinion of Jovanović’s Ministry, the amounts paid for translations are also controversial given that this work should have been performed by SIPO employees [as part of their regular duties].

Sanader approved the purchase of the cars

The Ministry has also found a series of errors in service contracts and has requested special supervision by the State Inspectorate and Inspectors from the Ministry of Labour.
Concerning the controversial purchase of vehicles, including an Audi A6 TDI Quattro Tiptronic B worth 80,000 EUR and a Mercedes E 280 CDI worth 70,000 EUR, which was also subject to investigation by the Ministry, it was established that Topić had the permission of the Government, headed by Prime Minister Ivo Sanader, for the disputed purchase of these vehicles.

Ivo Sanader is now in prison and the local press habitually calls Topić "Sanader's protégé", which helps Topić’s case not at all.

“The reporting in the Croatian press seems to have annoyed Mr. Topić,” we got told, “who had in the meantime been appointed as a Vice-President at the EPO and had moved to Munich.”

In future parts we are going to step deeper into this affair and also cover Topić’s and the EPO’s response.

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