Former Serbian minister under arrest

Former Serbian minister under arrest


By Miloš Mitrović – Belgrade

On Friday Serbian police detained former Minister for economy Predrag Bubalo and former head of The Privatization Agency Miodrag Đorđević. Bubalo and Đorđevic are suspected in relation to the corruptive privatization of the Port of Belgrade. Six more persons have also been detained.

By the fraudulent privatization of The Port of Belgrade, Bubalo and Đorđevic had allegedly damaged Serbian budget for at least EUR 5.7 million, Serbian media reported. The Port of Belgrade was sold in 2005 to the Luxembourg-based Worldfin, owned at the time by Serbian top businessmen Miroslav Mišković and Milan Beko.

Miroslav Mišković, one of the richest people in the world according to the Forbes magazine, has been in the police detention since December 2012. In April, he was accused of tax evasion as well as of extracting EUR 25 million from a privatized and then bankrupt companies.

Milan Beko has been questioned by the police regarding the privatization of the Port of Belgrade seven times since January. Bubalo has also been heard in January.

Predrag Bubalo was Minister for economy and privatization in the Government of the Prime Minister Vojislav Koštunica. According to his lawyer Zoran Ateljević, Bubalo is suspected for the ommision to act, rather than for the corruption.

Bubalo failed to inform the Government and the Prime Minister about the real value of the shares of The Port of Belgrade, as Serbian Anti-Corruption Council found in 2008.

The Port of Belgrade was sold for the 2.5 times lower price than the real one at the time. The privatization was characterized by the Anti-Corruption Council as a large-scale corruption and the robbery against all Serbian citizens.

Bubalo failed to conduct the supervision of the privatization of The Port of Belgrade, despite the fact that he had legaly been obliged to do so, Anti-Corruption Council concluded. As a consequence, Mišković and Beko became the 93 percent owners of The Port of Belgrade.

Mišković withdrew from the ownership of the Port after some time.

Last year the European Commission requested the investigation of 24 privatizations from Belgrade. The privatization of The Port of Belgrade was among them. Before Brussels demanded investigations, the Anti-Corruption Council marked these privatizations as unlawful. Serbian Deputy PM Aleksandar Vučić said earlier that the inquiries of these privatizations would be finished this year.