Serbian Finance Minister, Sinisa Mali has paid 200,000 dinars towards humanitarian causes in order to have the proceedings launched against him dropped – the journalists of the investigative website KRIK have learned from the prosecutor’s office. Among other things, Mali was accused of failing to declare all of his property and assets, as required by law.
KRIK, a partner of the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP), said that they were informed of the news by the first instance Public Prosecutor’s Office in Belgrade and that Mali paid the amount in its entirety.
KRIK added that the prosecution had no other ongoing legal proceedings against Mali.
Sinisa Mali was under investigation following KRIK publishing a series of stories about him (who was the Belgrade Mayor at the time) three years ago, prompting the Anti-Corruption Agency to launch an investigation.
Want to open a company in Serbia? Click here!
The Agency informed the Second Instance Prosecutor’s Office about its suspicions related to a number of crimes involving Mali, including money laundering. Despite numerous discoveries about Sinisa Mali’s suspicious deals like the purchase of 24 apartments in Bulgaria, the misuse of the privatization of the Bratstvo Company, the illegal acquisition of state land, alleged money laundering, and presenting fake property records, he was never indicted although the Anti-Corruption Agency had submitted the relevant documents to the Prosecutor’s Office, stating that Mali was suspected of being involved in several criminal offences.
Similar documents, stating suspicious money transactions, were submitted by the Administration for Prevention of Money Laundering.
The Prosecutor’s Office subsequently declared that Mali did not commit any of the alleged crimes, that they were authorized to investigate, and sent the case back to the first instance prosecutor’s office which only checked his property.
At the end of August, the Anti-Corruption Agency submitted a new report to the prosecution in which it stated that Mali had reported all of his property, after which the prosecution proposed to Mali to pay 200,000 dinars for humanitarian causes in exchange for the proceedings against him being suspended. Mali paid the sum immediately, and the case was dropped.
Mali was the director of the company that bought 5-million-euro worth of apartments on the Bulgarian coast. According to the report compiled by the Anti-Corruption Agency in 2015, he failed to report this to the Serbian authorities.
The Agency also states that the Bulgarian authorities said that a number of transactions in connection with this purchase were treated as suspicious “because the apartments were paid with large amounts of cash, over a short period of time which defied logic.”
The Anti-Corruption Agency then ordered the Administration for Prevention of Money Laundering to check the bank accounts that Mali had controlled and suspected money laundering. Only ten days earlier, Sinisa Mali’s father transferred his company rights to his son who subsequently sold the company to his offshore firm for just over a half a million euro.
Sinisa Mali’s wife, Marija has also spoken to KRIK about Mali’s affairs and admitted that she had helped him to fake the property reports by saying that 95,000 euro, the origin of which was unknown, came from her father. During his divorce proceedings, Sinisa Mali said that 60,000 euro, which he used to pay tuition fees for his three children, was given to him by his friends whom he had met abroad. In her interview for KRIK, Marija Mali also said that her ex-husband admitted to her that he was the one who had organized the illegal demolition of houses in the Belgrade district of Savamala.
KRIK discovers more shady deals
While working in the Privatization Agency in 2002, Mali helped his father, Borislav and his family friend Ivan Delic to privatize the manufacturer of train cars, Bratstvo. KRIK has also discovered that the Mali family illegally acquired 10 hectares of state land near the town of Vrsac and that the family was never prosecuted because of that.
Despite all the reports, the Prosecutor’s Office said last year that there was no evidence that Mali had committed any criminal offences.
A year later, another procedure was halted. This time, Mali was accused of not declaring all of his property, but no investigation was launched against him. The Anti-Corruption Agency, however, still has several ongoing proceedings against Mali. You can read more about KRIK’s investigation here.