Montenegro: Case of €1 million-donation misuse in Ministry of Interior uncovered

Montenegro: Case of €1 million-donation misuse in Ministry of Interior uncovered

Montenegrin Deputy Prime Minister Dritan Abazović and State Secretary in the Ministry of the Interior Rade Milošević announced at a press conference that the Interdepartmental Commission had determined that more than one million euros had been misappropriated during the procurement of border monitoring equipment.

“The embezzlement of several million euros was discovered. This concerns the funds obtained through the Schengen Action Plan,” said Abazović.

As he explained, the purchased equipment had remained unoperated for more than a year.

“It is directly related to the situation on the border zones, and the Ministry of the Interior has taken over all activities to fully protect the border zone and thus the safety of the citizens of Montenegro, after the abuse was discovered,” said Abazović.

He added that they had some thoughts about the culprits, however this is a matter of investigation and falls under the state bodies’ jurisdiction.

Abazović stressed that Internal Affairs Minister Sergej Sekulović issued an order to remove the secrecy mark from all tenders that the Ministry of the Interior had in the previous period.

He said it can be seen from the paper who is responsible and that former Interior Minister Mevludin Nuhodžić has a functional responsibility.

He added that the EU was aware of the case.

When asked to give details on the said equipment, Abazović explained that it was radars and cameras used to monitor the border zones.

“We allegedly asked for a particular piece of equipment and got another, cheaper one,” said Abazović.

Milošević said it was found that the purchased equipment was of much lower quality.

“It is approximately five times cheaper than the one that was charged. There is a well-founded suspicion that the company that won the tender removed the stickers from the equipment that was procured and pasted the stickers of renowned companies,” Milošević said.

He described it as an unprecedented scandal, bearing in mind that the state of Montenegro is participating in that business.

“It is much more important that this equipment serves to prevent organized criminal groups, and that it is about maritime border crossings between Montenegro and Albania and Montenegro and Croatia,” Milošević said.

As he said, there was also evidence that the tender was rigged to favour one Belgrade company.

“In one case, the tender documentation deadline was 20 days, although in the case of the equipment that is necessary to procure in this business, export licenses alone require 60 days, so that the equipment can be imported to Montenegro in the first place,” said Milošević.

He added that the tender results had been predetermined in the knowledge of the winner company, and that it was obvious that everything had been planned in that direction.

Milošević also said it was important that the Police Directorate, and in particular the Border Police Sector, asked the former MUP leadership to annul the tender as the border police considered the equipment requested through the tender to not meet the needs of the border police, however this request fell short.

He added that, during the tender procedure, Nuhodžić formed the Supervisory Commission which was supposed to determine the quality of that equipment.

“For 180 days, they hid the documentation from the Commission he had formed, all with the aim of emphasizing the contract between the supplier and the Ministry of the Interior, so that bank guarantees could not be activated and so that the state could not collect damages,” Milošević explained.

He underlined that the equipment had remained unoperated for more than a year and a half and that it had only been working for two days when it was ceremoniously put into operation.

Milošević believes the prosecution has failed.

“Until yesterday, there was radio silence from the prosecution. A bribe was offered to a member of the Supervisory Commission, a police officer who reported it and gave a statement to the Higher Prosecutor’s Office, and it ended up in a drawer,” said Milošević, adding that the bribe was “offered by the owner of the company that won the tender.” /ibna