Bonum Certa Men Certa

EPO Integrity on the Line: The Story of Željko Topić's Controversial Diploma - Part IV

Summary: More press reports about the controversial background of EPO Vice-President Topić, which in spite of his letter of response (neglecting to refute key allegations) continued to be published in the Croatian media

IN part one and in part two we looked at accusations that Topić, the Vice-President from the EPO, had forged his degree certificate (some still believe he never completed his degree). In part three presented a letter from Topić himself (bearing the name of SIPO even after he had left SIPO), but that letter said nothing to refute or deny accusations relating to this certificate. This isn't like somewhat of a "Birther" movement; there are legitimate questions which need to be answered and documents that need to be seen.



“It can't have been positive for Topić because if it had cleared him then it's likely that Battistelli would have been the first to trumpet it to the world.”
      --Anonymous
"On the 20th of June 2012," our source told us, "Tjedno.hr published a follow-up article about the controversy surrounding Topić's disputed claim to have obtained a Master's degree from the University of Banja Luka. Tjedno.hr published a further article about this matter on 30 March 2013." (to be covered in part 5 of this series).

"The final outcome of the official enquiry attempting to verify Topić's academic qualifications which was announced by the Croatian Ministry of Science in March 2012 has never been revealed. It can't have been positive for Topić because if it had cleared him then it's likely that Battistelli would have been the first to trumpet it to the world.

"Readers should bear in mind that the Croatian Ministry of Science never conclusively remarked on the matter.""The only other investigation into the matter was the "internal investigation" carried out at the EPO in 2013 as previously reported by Techrights. Hoping that this information is of some interest."

Readers should bear in mind that the Croatian Ministry of Science never conclusively remarked on the matter. There is the possibility of political suppression of the findings.

Below is an English translation of the article about it. Original Croatian text can be found here and for the sake of brevity we have added to the English translation some highlights in yellow.

LEAD STORIES

DOES ŽELJKO TOPIĆ HAVE A FAKE MASTER’S DEGREE?



A new scandal concerning the long-time Director of the State Intellectual Property Office

Date: 20 June 2012

Croatian letter



Željko Topić departed from the SIPO at his own request on 30 April 2012 while the Ministry of Science, Education and Sports was in the process of conducting a supervisory investigation into the operations of the State Intellectual Property Office (SIPO) and in the midst of checking whether he has legal documents supporting his claim to have a masters’ degree in economics. His master's thesis was reportedly defended in Banja Luka. In addition to an increasing number of pending criminal charges against him in Croatia, the story of Mr. Topić’s as yet unverified master’s degree is a special chapter in the murky biography of the long-time SIPO Director.

After his arrival in Zagreb, Željko Topić always claimed to have a postgraduate qualification as a Master of Economic Science and, based on that claimed qualification, he has for many years been drawing legally prescribed salary supplements although, as now seems to be the case, there is no evidence that he has truly earned the right to add this title to his name. After an anonymous letter of denunciation was sent to the Ministry of Science, Education and Sports, the Ministry requested the Faculty of Economics in Banja Luka to send official confirmation concerning the validity of Topić’s postgraduate qualifications but to date the requested information has not been received. The letter of denunciation pointing to the possibility of false claims concerning the master’s studies and the postgraduate diploma is published exclusively as an attachment to this article.

THE RIGHT TO FEES FROM LENDING BOOKS WAS IGNORED

Portal Tjedno has previously written on two separate occasions about numerous questionable actions on the part of Željko Topić. In the context of his various dubious activities it is interesting to note that so far no one appears to have bothered to ask who in the state administration is responsible for the fact that writers in Croatia still do not benefit from the legal right to fees from the public lending of books?

Following the adoption of the Copyright and Related Rights Act 2003, in 2005 the SIPO and its, now former, Director of Željko Topić, produced a document entitled "National Strategy for the Development of the Intellectual Property of the Republic of Croatia 2005-2010" in which the implementation of the public lending right (PLR) was foreseen for the period 2006-2007. That document was approved by the Croatian Government in October 2005. The SIPO was supposed to coordinate the implementation of the measures set out in the document, including the introduction of the above mentioned PLR, in collaboration with the Croatian Writers' Association and the Ministry of Culture, which funds libraries including the National and University Library, as well as the central library facility in the Republic of Croatia.

In addition, under the CARDS 2001 project relating to strengthening intellectual property rights in Croatia entitled "Strategy and Action Plan for the Implementation and Realization of Intellectual Property Rights" which was funded by the European Union and completed in 2005, one of the measures planned by the SIPO related to the implementation of the PLR in Croatia: identification and distribution of financial compensation to writers.

Based on the details about the PLR contained in the above documents and the planned schedule for its introduction in Croatia, a proposal was presented at the European and World Congresses on Public Lending Rights in Budapest and Paris in 2007 to organize the next European PLR Congress, i.e. for 2008, in Croatia with the aim of assisting Croatian writers to obtain a faster and better implementation of the new right.

OFFICIAL MERCEDES PURCHASED AT A BARGAIN PRICE

However, despite being designated as the official coordinators for the aforementioned "National Strategy", the SIPO and its former director Željko Topić completely ignored their obligations in the area of public lending rights and failed to respond in an appropriate manner to the offer of foreign aid. In April 2008, Topić rejected the proposal of the organizers of the PLR Congress on the grounds that Croatia, as the prospective host state, lacked the necessary funds for co-financing the cost of the Congress (i.e. approximately 15,000 EUR). The organizers reacted with disappointment and skepticism to Topić’s rejection and decided to re-direct their offer of co-funding towards Bulgarian writers with the result that in September 2008 the European PLR Congress was held in Sofia, rather than in Croatia as originally planned.

At the same time as he rejected the proposal of the PLR Congress organizers due to an alleged lack of funds, Topić was busy approving the use of six vehicles by the SIPO (a Mercedes, three Audis and two Skodas), three of which were brand new vehicles that mainly served to satisfy his personal vanity. In this connection it is worth noting that the costs incurred for of one of these vehicles over a period of six months would have been sufficient to cover the co-financing of the Congress which was of such significance because of the support that it would have provided to Croatian writers. Topić also financed the costs of a new Audi 6 which was placed at the disposal of the supervisory Minister of Science (who was responsible for proposing the appointment and dismissal of the SIPO Director to the Government) thereby coming under suspicion of having “bought” his second term of office as SIPO Director for some HRK 500,000, a matter which is the subject of proceedings before the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg. As for the new Mercedes, Topic saved this for himself (as he was normally driving in the Audi). After three years of leasing payments from the State budget, he became the owner of the aforementioned vehicle in mid-2010 after paying only a nominal price for it.


That last sentence serves to reinforce allegations or rumours that Topić now drives this Mercedes, originally purchased for SIPO. Some say that they saw this vehicle parked in Munich and photos were circulating among EPO employees. This can't be good for Topić's (and by extension the EPO's) credibility, can it?

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