bne IntelliNews – Montenegro investigates allegations of President Djukanovic’s involvement in money laundering ring
Montenegro’s Specialized Prosecutor’s Office has opened an investigation into allegations by Albanian oil businessman Rezart Taci that President Milo Djukanovic was involved in an international money laundering program, state broadcaster RTCG reported on November 17. .
Earlier in November, BIRN published wiretapping conversations of Taci, who is accused in Albania of being involved in an international money laundering program, in which the Albanian businessman said he implicated Djukanovic in money transfers to Prva Banka in Montenegro, the bank in which Milo Djukanovic Aco’s brother has a stake.
Prva Banka has already denied these allegations.
Meanwhile, Djukanovic said, quoted by RTCG, that he will gladly answer all questions from the specialized prosecution.
“I will gladly respond to an invitation to any state authority because I want to give an example of how to act if we are to establish an effective rule of law,” Djukanovic said.
However, he also said that he had not had any contact with the Albanian businessman or anyone else involved, and claimed that it was a false accusation aimed at distracting the attention of important issues in political and public life.
âIt’s a completely fabricated affair. I don’t know who these people are and I haven’t had any contact with them, âDjukanovic said at a press conference in Cetinje on November 17th.
“[T]it is a complete forgery, but these forgeries have become a kind of practice in political life in Montenegro, âhe added.
Djukanovic is also asked about revelations in the Pandora Papers that he and his son Blazo funneled money to offshore accounts through a complex network of companies in the UK, Switzerland, the British Virgin Islands, Panama and Gibraltar.
According to the anti-corruption NGO MANS, in 2012, Milo and Blazo Djukanovic signed secret contracts on the management of their assets, hiding behind the network of companies in five countries. He added that Blazo used this network to hide two other companies.
MANS, who contributed to the Pandora Papers, said he found documents from the legal company ALCOGAL showing that Djukanovic and his son set up two trusts in the British Virgin Islands in June 2012. One, called the Victoria Trust, named Djukanovic as beneficiary. , while the other, Capecastel Trust, named his son Blazo.
The trusts were created for a period of 80 years and the company that managed them had the right to buy and sell property, open new companies and bank accounts in Djukanovic’s name. MANS has published photos of documents proving that the trusts are owned by Milo and Blazo Djukanovic.
Taci was charged by the Albanian Public Prosecutor’s Office against Corruption, SPAK, along with four Italian citizens and two accomplices, with money laundering and leading a structured criminal group. SPAK claims the group laundered the profits of Italian oil companies via Albania in exchange for part of the money. A Palermo court is also investigating whether Taci and several Italian citizens laundered 22 million euros.
Prva Banka has been at the center of controversy in the past, when anti-corruption NGOs dubbed the bank the “personal cash machine” of Djukanovic’s family and close allies.
In 2016, MEPs called for pressure on the Montenegrin authorities to open an investigation into Prva Banka following allegations that the bank was involved in money laundering.
The call followed a 2012 Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) report on the bank, which showed concerns raised by the Montenegrin central bank about Prva Banka’s lending practices before the global financial crisis. and its government bailout and a â¬ 100m deposit from the Italian company A2A after its investment in the Montenegrin power company EPCG.