Four government ministers are being investigated by the Money Laundering Administration, said yesterday the President of Serbia, Aleksandar Vučić, although he did not want to reveal their names.
Considering the history of certain ministers and their involvement in scandals during their tenure, the clues lead to these four names: Finance Minister, Siniša Mali, Defence Minister, Aleksandar Vulin, Justice Minister, Nela Kuburović and Minister without Portfolio in Charge of Technological Development, Nenad Popović. However, these are only conjectures and hypotheses, because the public is again not told what it should be told, namely which ministers are under suspicion for lacking integrity in their work.
“We are performing the usual checks. It is very important that our civil sector is strong and that there are respectful relations with the state, but at the same time, it is also very important that the laws apply to everyone and that no-one is allowed to be above them. These are not special checks, but ordinary ones,” said Vučić, alluding to the fact that a large number of media and non-governmental organizations are under investigation by the Administration that investigates money laundering cases.
Siniša Mali and the 24 apartments in Bulgaria
Many scandals are linked to the Minister of Finance, Siniša Mali – from the illegal demolition in the Savamala district of Belgrade in 2016 in order for the Belgrade Waterfront residential complex to be built to the time when he was mayor of Belgrade, the plagiarism of his doctorate and the purchase of 24 apartments in a luxurious Bulgarian tourist complex in 2012 and 2013 (one that he owns and the others that he bought as a representative of two British Virgin Islands-based offshore companies).
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The November 2016 report, compiled by the Money Laundering Administration, also indicated a number of suspicious money transactions noticed in Mali’s bank account, who, among other things, had at least 45 accounts in various banks in Serbia, of which 17 in his own name, at least one in the name of his consultancy company, 21 in the name of his ex-wife and at least three were open on behalf of his minor children.
Aleksandar Vulin and his aunt from Canada
Aleksandar Vulin is another minister who might be on the list due to the more than suspicious purchase of an apartment in Belgrade. It still remains unclear how the current Minister of Defence acquired 205,000 euro in cash for the purchase of an apartment in Vračar, Belgrade. According to him, the cash loan came from his wife’s aunt who lives in Canada. However, there is no trace of how that money got into Serbia.
Nela Kuburović and her husband
The list could also include Minister of Justice Nela Kuburović. The company, managed by her husband and Darija Kisić Tepačević’s brother, signed lucrative contracts with public companies and ministries worth around 26.8 million euro. Companies managed by Bojan Kisić have signed 27 contracts with public companies and ministries worth around 26.8 million euros, including a 3-million-euro contract to improve the health information system.
Finally, the fourth suspect could be Nenad Popovic, current Minister of Technology and Development, because of the Paradise Papers affair, when his name was among 120 politicians from around the world accused of hiding their assets. According to these documents, at the time when he was the Deputy Speaker of the Serbian Parliament, Popović had contacted an offshore services agency because he wanted to re-structure the offshore companies he owned and transfer their ‘headquarters’ to the Isle of Man or Hong Kong.
The Money Laundering Administration launched an investigation into Popović’s dealings and found out about the controversial business deals he had with the Russians. The estimated value of the assets of Popović’s companies is $75 million and their market value is $100 million, but these assets are not declared in Popović’s ministerial portfolio in the Anti-Corruption Agency’s database, because only the nominal value of the mentioned companies and not the value of their assets has been registered in the database.
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