What is behind the smear campaign against Stanko Subotic (1)
Seselj: Arrest Cane!
All that has been the focus of public attention during the past few weeks: charges by Srdja Popovic in the political background of the assassination of Zoran Djindjic, the misplaced and lost charges filed by Vladimir Popovic against Legija’s lawyers, articles by Jasna Babic about an organized campaign by the weekly Nacional against Zoran Djindjic, Milo Djukanovic and Stanko Subotic, as well as articles about the role of former US ambassador William Montgomery take us back to the unprecedented media campaign which has been going on for years against the same individuals, mainly against Stanko Subotic, for the sole reason that he was a friend of Zoran Djindjic. From the vast volume of media documents which Serbianleaks has at its disposal, in a series of articles, we will present to our readers the methods, style, structure and motives behind this shocking smear campaign against Stanko Subotic, run in the same way in which Kostunica’s machinery had dealt with Vladimir Beba Popovic or the late Prime Minister for years. Articles from print media will be presented in their original form without comments, simply as proof of the pattern behind this political confrontation
Following the trail of unofficial news circulating Montenegro yesterday, we visited some of our most exclusive holiday spots where the controversial businessman owns property. The gates of his villa were locked and neighbors had no idea whether Stanko Subotic had sold his villa or not. We did not receive any comment on the news, not even an unofficial denial, because the offices of the relevant authorities in Budva were closed for holidays and the weekend. Who the buyer is and what sum is involved is not known yet.
Stanko Cane Subotic became the focus of Montenegrin and Yugoslavian press following a series of articles published in the Zagreb Nacional alleging his involvement in cigarette smuggling along the Adriatic coast. He has denied these and other allegations on several occasions pointing to dubious business deals with some of the key figures in the current Montenegrin government.
Workers and Fund Consolidate Shares (Glas Javnosti, 14.01.2003; by: Z. Mihajlovic)
Stanko Subotic, a Serbian businessman, has still not decided whether on January 29 through his firm D Trade in Belgrade, he will purchase majority shares, nearly 90% of the capital of “Duvan”, being sold by the Share Fund at the Belgrade Stock Exchange. Bojan Stevanovic, director of D Trade, said for the daily "Glas" that a decision would be made regarding the purchase of 89.27% of the capital of Duvan within the next few days. At the beginning of December, after purchasing 9.7% shares in Duvan at the stock exchange, Subotic stated that he was also interested in buying 38% of the company’s shares which were held by the Share Fund. Meanwhile state shares and a total of 51.18% of shares owned by individual small shareholders were consolidated to be offered at the market at the end of January. The Share Fund announced yesterday that 41,642 shares in Duvan, of which 17,768 are owned by the state and the rest by individual shareholders, will be offered at a minimum price of 6,492 dinars. The deadline for paying a deposit of 27,033,986 dinars for participation in the trade is January 24. If the state sells its shares at the offered price, it will put some 115.5 million dinars or nearly €2 million in the budget.
At the beginning of December, D Trade bought 4,504 workers’ shares for 5.410 dinars per share, which is nearly 80% more than the price of shares sold a month earlier. At that point Subotic stated that after taking over majority ownership in Duvan he would invest in kiosks, to make them resemble those in Paris and London. He said that kiosks would sell also other goods besides cigarettes.
Duvan, founded in 1946, owns a chain of kiosks selling cigarettes, newspapers and other items. D Trade is a distributor for House of Prince and Altadis Tobacco in Serbia.
SRS (Serbian Radical Party): Arrest Subotic (Politika, 15.01.2003; Tanjug)
The Serbian Radical Party demanded yesterday from the Interior Ministry the arrest of controversial businessman Stanko Subotic Cane, as they stated, for committing serious criminal offences. According to the SRS, it is also necessary that the police investigate all his businesses, the process whereby he “smuggles cigarettes and alcohol” and to ascertain who his partners are in these businesses.
SRS: Arrest Cane (Nacional, 21.01.2003; by: NN)
The Serbian Radical Party considers that Serbian Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic’s statement that the government will seriously confront organized crime this year, is hypocrisy. The Serbian government knows very well who the mafia bosses in Serbia are, but the question appears as to why it does not arrest Stanko Subotic Cane, Nebojsa Covic or any of the other crime bosses in Serbia, states the SRS.
Another 10 Lawsuits (Vecernje Novosti, 01.02.2003; by: A. M)
The Belgrade District Court has annulled the Fifth Municipal Court verdict against Vojislav Seselj who was sued for slander by Stanko Subotic Cane. The Fifth Municipal Court sentenced Seselj to a three-month imprisonment for stating that Subotic was “the king of the tobacco mafia” and that he had participated in the planning of the murder of police general Radovan Stojicic Badza, and that the motive had been struggle for control over the cigarette market. At the trial Seselj demanded that Subotic be called to testify, but the Municipal Court denied that request. The Court also announced its verdict in Seselj’s absence, which was one of the several regulations violated during the trial, according to District Judge Slobodan Cuk. Subotic has filed another ten slander lawsuits against Seselj which will be processed in a single trial at the Fourth Municipal Court.
Head of the SRS Vojislav Seselj, who is seeking through a private lawsuit a reward of 900,000 Deutsch Marks from the Serbian Interior Ministry, for uncovering the identity of the murderers of Slavko Curuvija, Radovan Stojicic Badza and Momir Gavrilovic, handed over yesterday 200 pages of written material to the First Municipal Court in Belgrade. This material consists of information from his intelligence network about various crimes and 22 notes by the late minister of police Vlajko Stojiljkovic about the perpetrators, political parties and informers, which is proof that he is not making groundless accusations.
“The next hearing has been scheduled for April 8,” said Seselj speaking in front of the Palace of Justice. The head of the SRS reiterated that Slavko Curuvija had been killed by Zoran Davidovic Canda, Branko Jeftovic Jorga, Miki Kurak and Ratko Romic. The killing of Radovan Stojicic Badza had been ordered by Stanko Subotic Cane, while Momir Gavrilovic had been murdered at the behest of former DB (Serbian intelligence and security) officials Zoran Mijatovic and Goran Petrovic, and the assassination had been directly organized by Ljubisa Buha Cume and his men. Seselj stated that Stojiljkovic had entrusted his notes to him a few days prior to his death. Seselj said, “Dusan Mihajlovic did not appear at the proceedings, but rather sent a vague letter in which he did not deny a single allegation I had put forward. All the information about the murders in question was provided to me through sources in the police force and newspapers.” He said that two days ago he had called Mihajlovic and suggested a deal to him, asking him to pay a sum of 500,000 Deutsch Marks in order to end the proceedings, but the Minister had told him “You are asking for too many zeros”.
Serbia’s Interior Minister Dusan Mihajlovic stated yesterday that he did not know of any charges by the Hague tribunal against Vojislav Sesejl, former RDB head Jovica Stanisic and former commander of the Special Operations Unit (JSO) Milorad Lukovic Legija.
“Even if the charges are filed, the Serbian Interior Ministry has nothing to do with that, because our law on cooperation with the Hague tribunal accepts all indictments made before the time of the passing of the law” said Mihajlovic speaking at the Serbian Parliament.
Minic’s Lawyers File Suit Against Stanko Subotic (Nacional, 22.02.2003; by: N. S.)
“We hope that on February 24, when Minic is to appear before the court in the second private lawsuit by Cane over alleged abuse of office and unauthorized “investigation”, Cane will appear in Belgrade. We are also preparing to file a suit against him by Volf,” said Goran Petronijevic, one of Minic’s defense lawyers, for "Nacional".
“It reveals a lot that both lawsuits were filed precisely at the time when Vukasin Minic was arrested in a very dodgy manner in July 2002. There is no doubt that he wanted to weaken Minic’s position during the trial, and possibly to prolong his stay in detention,” said Petronijevic. Minic’s lawyers told the "Nacional" yesterday that Volf is filing a lawsuit against Subotic because of his assertion that Vukasin Minic was behind the articles published in Zagreb’s "Nacional" and because of his statement that with this Volf wanted to damage the authorities in Serbia and Montenegro. “Perhaps it was because of these insinuations by Subotic that Vukasin Minic faced a lot of unpleasantness in Serbia, still he travelled here from London,” stressed Petronijevic.
Cane Sues Volf (Glas Javnosti, 25.02.2003; by: D. C.)
Vukasin Minic Volf (37) representative of Japan Tobacco International and FIA testified yesterday before the First Municipal Court in a lawsuit filed against him by businessman Stanko Cane Subotic. Subotic filed the lawsuit over Minic’s statement that he had discovered monetary assets belonging to Slobodan Milosevic in Subotic’s Cyprus bank account. At yesterday’s hearing Minic refused to say whether he had found Milosevic’s money in Subotic’s bank accounts, because he did not have clearance for doing so from the Serbian government, which had hired him. Subotic’s lawyer, Vlada Pavicevic stated that Minic had not stated yesterday that he had found former Yugoslavian President Milosevic’s money in his client’s bank accounts. “How could Milosevic’s money be in Subotic’s account, when Milosevic persecuted him during his time in office”, said Pavicevic. Minic’s lawyer Goran Petronijevic said that Subotic’s lawsuit was without any grounds as it had earlier been dismissed by the First Municipal Public Prosecutor.
The First Municipal Court in Belgrade began proceedings yesterday in a private lawsuit by Stanko Subotic against Vukasin Minic Volf, a representative of the JTI company. Subotic accuses Minic of abuse of office, which damaged the interests of his company “Bonareks” in Cyprus. The allegations state that the federal government had hired Minic’s services to investigate how Slobodan Milosevic and his associates had transferred money to Cyprus. Minic found a certain Nikola Milosevic and thought that this was a relative of Slobodan Milosevic. Nikola Milosevic is, as stated in the charges, the head of Bonareks and a relative of Stanko Subotic, while Minic asserted that he had found Milosevic’s money in the firm. At the moment details of Minic’s statement are not available, nor is it known what sort of losses Subotic’s business suffered.
Where is Milosevic’s Money? (Danas, 25.02.2003; by: V. Z. C.)
Vukasin Minic Volf testified before the First Municipal Court yesterday in proceedings against Stanko Subotic Cane. The allegations against him are that Subotic’s firm Banoreks in Cyprus suffered losses because Minic, while investigating, found an account belonging to Nikola Milosevic, who he said was a relative of Slobodan Milosevic, but he was head of Subotic’s firm and Subotic’s relative. Minic refused to say whether he had found Milosevic’s money on Stanko Subotic’s account as he did not have clearance to do so from the Serbian government.
Cane Fails to Show Up in Court, in Fear of Seselj (Nacional, 22.02.2003; by: S. DZ. S.)
The trial of Vukasin Volf Minic was postponed at the First Municipal Court in Belgrade on Friday. Minic, a representative of JTI in Serbia and the Intero agency, has been sued by businessman Stanko Subotic Cane for libel because Minic had stated for Blic that Subotic was a “mafia boss” and was involved in “cigarette smuggling.” Subotic did not appear in court for a possible settlement. His lawyer Vladimir Pavicevic said that Subotic was abroad and unable to come to Belgrade.
“Subotic does not wish to make a settlement with Minic. He respects the court but he has serious reasons for not coming. He has been threatened and head of the SRS Vojislav Seselj has made public predictions about the date of his murder,” said Pavicevic.
Minic refused to testify because he had not seen the disputed material. “I don’t remember that I did an interview with the Blic News. I know that at the time of its publication I was in prison being interrogated by the security department. If Subotic does not have the money to come here I will be happy to lend him some. Unlike him, I respect the court and come here despite threats. I am in greater danger because I am into ‘organized crime’,” he said ironically, alluding to accusations made against him in the media.
Minic’s lawyer Goran Petronijevic said,
“Seselj will soon go to the Hague. If he is scared now, after that he will be free to come to the court. I will ask Subotic to pay Minic 200,000 Marks on account of travelling costs and 24 hours security, if the court confirms now that his absence is unjustified.”
Legendary football player Dule Savic is from Ub, Dragan Dzajic is from nearby, and the people of Ub are also proud of another feature. The yet unfinished, under construction Church of the Ascension of the Lord. The main donator, born in Ub, is businessman Stanko Subotic Cane, for whom residents of Ub have only words of praise, although guite the opposite is heard about him in the parliament. Because of the storm kicked up by the media and derogatory public statements against him, Church representatives in Ub rose in defense of the “great benefactor and main donator Mr. Subotic”, at a proposal by a large number of the followers of the Church.
“The work done by Stanko Subotic is best known to his neighbors and fellow citizens. Not a single court in this country has ever passed a sentence against him. He was accused prior to trial or court judgments, condemned by those who generally condemn all that is healthy, Orthodox and Serbian, condemned by the likes of the Zagreb Nacional and his opponents here. This is being done by the same people who spoke against the Serbian Patriarch, Serbia’s Crown Prince, Serbian academies and universities, wantonly and destructively. We hope that this dirtying of people’s names at any cost will disappear, because everyone is known and recognized by their deeds and the fruit of what they have sown, as is said to us by Christ,” a written statement asserts. The new Byzantine style church is being built on the site of the old church which was burnt down by the Turks, and which once also served as a prison and a hospital. It was later destroyed in the Mionica earthquake.
“The construction of the church began in 1998, with the help of donations from the godly people of Ub and Tamnava, but construction has continued only because of the unselfish help given by the main donator Subotic. The repair of the old church would have cost more than the construction of a new one. From the start Subotic supported the idea of renovation and promised that he would pay for the most expensive parts of the build. The Church committee suggested this could be the costs of copper covering and the installation of the crosses. However, we did not even reach that point and had to ask for help. Then we agreed at a meeting that financing will begin from the point where construction had halted, until the completion of the build” said Protoiereus Mitar Milovanovic.
“From the very start we have had public benefactors in Serbia, from Sima Igumanov to Kolarac. All of them, including Stanko Subotic, have given from what they have to help the Church” he said.
One of the residents said, “Is his business clean? Probably not, but our Cane is also not the criminal his enemies make him out to be.”
Cane’s Lawyer Says No Settlement (Glas Javnosti, 22.02.2003; by: D. C.)
The trial of Vukasin Minic Volf (37), a representative of Japan Tobacco International, in the libel lawsuit filed by businessmen Stanko Subotic Cane, was postponed yesterday by the First Municipal Court. Subotic sued Minic because Minic had stated in the daily Blic and Blic News that “Subotic is a mafia boss” and “is behind many murders”. Minic refused to present his defense yesterday saying that he had not seen the disputed material. He said that he had never done any interviews as he had been in prison at the time of the interviews. Subotic did not make an appearance yesterday and his lawyer Vladimir Pavicevic said that he had been prevented from coming.
“Besides, my client is being threatened with death and Seselj has already predicted the date of his murder,” said Pavicevic. Subotic’s lawyer refused the judge’s suggestion for a settlement. The Judge ordered that Subotic and authors of the article in question should testify. Minic said after the hearing that he would file a countersuit against Subotic. “Each of my visits from London costs me 200,000 Deutsch Marks, and Mr. Subotic does not bother to show up. If he doesn’t have money, I will be glad to lend him some,” said Minic.
Unsuccessful Attempt at Settlement between Minic and Subotic (Blic, 22.02.2003; by: K.K.)
An attempt at a settlement at the First Municipal Court ended in failure yesterday, in the proceedings in the libel case by Stanko Subotic against Vukasin Volf Minic, representative of JTI and the agency Intero for Yugoslavia. The charges in the suit filed on August 5 are that in an interview published in Blic which was also presented by Blic News Minic allegedly “brought forward information without any basis in reality” saying that Subotic was a “tobacco mafia boss” and that operations conducted by the customs and police in Serbia “served only to divert the public’s attention from Subotic.”
Subotic’s lawyer said that his client had not appeared at the hearing because “during the past few years the media have been persecuting him and death threats have been made against him.” He stressed that Subotic was not legally obliged to be present at the trial. Minic’s lawyers said among other things that their client had been threatened, but had responded to all court subpoenas. They demanded for Subotic to testify.
The trial of Vojislav Seselj, head of the SRS, in the libel lawsuit filed by Stanko Subotic Cane, was postponed yesterday indefinitely. Subotic filed a suit against Seselj over his statement that Subotic had planned the murder of Radovan Stojicic Badza. Seselj’s lawyer Slavko Jerkovic demanded yesterday that proceedings be stopped because his client had been detained by the ICTY. Subotic’s lawyer Vlada Pavicevic said that Judge Zoran Tejic must hand out a sentence because Seselj had already testified. He said that Cane would withdraw all charges against the head of the SRS who “will not be in the country for a certain period of time”. “I am sorry that he has been indicted by the ICTY and we think that it is inappropriate to carry out more proceedings against him,” said Pavicevic. He said that it was necessary for the former head of RDB Radomir Markovic to testify as well, about whom Seselj asserts that he had said before a Serbian parliamentary committee that Cane had planned the murder of Badza. Subotic’s lawyer alleges that Markovic denied speaking about Badza’s murder before the committee. Markovic was not brought in from Central Prison yesterday as the District Court Judge did not approve this for security reasons.
Request for Exclusion of Judge Denied (Danas, 07.03.2003; by: B. V.)
President of the Municipal Court Veljko Maric denied a request by Stanko Subotic’s lawyer, Radoslav Tadic from Ub, to exclude Judge Nada Zivic, from the proceedings in the libel case against Darko Glisic (32) from Stublenica, head of the SRS district committee. Later Tadic made a similar written request to Dusko Djukanovic, president of the District Court. Subotic sued Glisic because he had stated at a press conference held in Valjevo in November last year that Subotic was the “criminal responsible for the death of several people in Serbia, among them Radovan Stojicic Badza and his bestman Dragisa Dimitrijevic Divljak from Ub.” Glisic persisted at the first hearing with statements that he had obtained this information from a book by Dr Vojislav Seselj “Stanko Subotic King of the Tobacco Mafia” and from the minutes of the parliamentary committee in charge of the unresolved murder of Pavle Bulatovic, former federal minister of defense of the Socialist Republic of Yugoslavia, according to which this information had been presented by Radomir Markovic, former head of Serbia’s RDB.
Tadic considers that Judge Zivic is “needlessly prolonging the trial” by insisting that the lawyer of the controversial businessman should provide his address in Switzerland so that he could be called for the opening of the trial, upon which, at the previous hearing Glisic and his lawyer Slavko Jerkovic from Zemun had also insisted. Tadic had said at the previous hearing that “he did not know Stanko Subotic’s address” and that “he would not acquire it within the given deadline of seven days” and that “he is of the opinion that his client is not obliged to appear at the trial”. Glisic said in a statement to the media that Subotic and his lawyer were “behaving like cowboys” and that “they do not recognize any authority, not even that of the court”. Judge Nada Zivic says that in private slander cases “the burden of the proof is on the accused”, who has the right to confront the plaintiff and ask questions which in his opinion could clarify the situation. Along with that, the individual filing a private lawsuit is obliged to provide any change in address which is something Stanko Subotic and his lawyers have not done.
Killing for JUL, SPS, Milosevic and SRS (Blic, 01.04.2003; by: E. B.)
The Interior Ministry of Serbia said yesterday that during its investigation it is constantly receiving information which clearly points to the fact that Prime Minister Djindjic’s murder was part of a conspiracy by the so called patriotic elements led by war criminals, war profiteers, and sponsors and instigators of political crimes among Slobodan Milosevic’s party.
Witnesses to gruesome crimes speak of strong links between alleged protectors of national interests of the Serbian people with Milorad Lukovic Legija and individual members of the Red Berets.
These false patriots, in cooperation with criminal gangs, above all those from Zemun, on behalf of the Milosevic–Markovic couple, and also for the parties JUL, SPS and SRS murdered political opponents, beat up members of opposition parties and mistreated members of the public who opposed them in anyway. Because of these services provided to the criminal regime, this group enjoyed all kinds of privileges. They were allowed drug and human trafficking and assassination of all those who stood in their way. The Interior Ministry states that this group was allowed the illegal use of diplomatic passports so that they were able to travel abroad, where they spent thousands of dollars. Legija was thus rewarded by his political mentors in 1996 with not only a diplomat status but also the title of “expert”.
Today on the basis of material evidence it is clear that the founders and leaders of this political/criminal gang, primarily Milorad Lukovic Legija, acted only to advance their criminal interests. While they had told their soldiers that they were travelling in an official capacity, now it is clear that their visits to Colombia, Russia, China and Albania were connected to murders, robberies, kidnappings and drug trafficking.
The Interior Ministry informs the people that Legija, among others, also hid behind the false Croatian identity of Vlada Vukomanovic. The fake Croatian passport which was found by the security services revealed new details which will accelerate the pace of investigation and Legija’s arrest.
The Ministry of Culture and Information, in cooperation with other government departments at the request of the Interior Ministry, will draft an analysis of the media attack on Prime Minister Djindjic during the past few years, in order to help the investigation.
Allegations against Djindjic and the government that they were linked with crime were first made in the Panorama mgazine, which was edited by Bratislav Grubacic and it appeared in Serbia only once, at the end of February2001. It has been established that Grubacic was paid for printing that issue of the magazine, which was exclusively dedicated to defaming the Prime Minister. The second issue appeared only in RS. Murdered DB official Momir Gavrilovic was also involved in the publication of these two issues, as well as an editor who later worked in the Belgrade Nacional. A source in Blic says that the police have proof of who paid for that issue of Panorama.
Three weeks after that the Zagreb Nacional began publishing a series of articles about the so called tobacco scandal, in which mention was made of Stanko Subotic Cane and alleged ties between Djindjic and the smuggling of cigarettes in the Balkans. Only a day prior to Prime Minister Djindjic’s murder the Belgrade Nacional, the publication of which the Serbian government has halted in the meanwhile, carried an article which was allegedly written by a housewife. This article presented the picture of Rubi, an internet porn star and the information that Cedomir Jovanovic, a top DS official, was skiing in France. According to sources in Blic, this information was known to a very small circle of people, and not even Jovanovic’s family members knew about this. He had been sent there for a certain period of time for security reasons, therefore it is suspected that Jovanovic was under intensive surveillance. Because of this the chief editor of Nacional will be interrogated as his explanation of his source for this information will help with further investigation.
The investigation up until now shows that Milorad Lukovic Legija kept a good part of the money obtained from kidnapping. The amount in question is in millions of Deutsch Marks, which as he explained to his “fellow fighters”, he used to finance families of killed members of the Special Operations Unit. Legija took half of the ransom money from kidnappings. From the ransom money for Miroslav Miskovic he took 3.5 million Marks and from the ransom for Milija Babovic he took much more. Under an agreement with criminals from the Zemun Clan who took part in kidnappings Legija took a million Marks from each kidnapping, allegedly for financing the families of Nenad Bujosevic and Nenad Ilic, member of the JSO who were convicted for crimes on the Ibar major road and sentenced to 15 years each. It is not known if he gave them any of the money.
Legija indirectly inquired from the ICTY if he could get a new identity and address in return for information about Radovan Karadzic and General Ratko Mladic, diplomatic sources told Beta agency. The possibility that Legija, who has close ties with Karadzic and Mladic, could make such a deal with the Hague tribunal was not mentioned earlier. Prosecution spokesperson Florence Hartman said, “I cannot comment. This is too sensitive a subject.”
Subotic Buys Duvan (NIN, 10.04.2003; by: NN)
Some 11 firms traded at the Belgrade stock exchange in shares during the last seven days. On Wednesday, D Trade bought 15,893 shares in Duvan from small shareholders for a price of 3,463 dinars. With the shares purchased earlier, it is now the owner of 44% of the capital of Duvan. According to information published several times and never denied, one of the owners of D Trade is also Stanko Subotic Cane. The new largest individual owner will enter Duvan executive management within three weeks. The Serbian Share Fund is the owner of 38.27% in Duvan and only a day earlier it attempted to sell its shares in the firm for a price of 3,896 dinars per share. Some think that behind the lack of interest in these shares is the price.
The Serbian Privatization Agency held two auctions in Belgrade during the last seven days and sold 70% of the socially owned capital of 20 companies. Serbia‘s budget saw revenues of a bit over two and half billion dinars primarily owing to a consortium of 550 workers in the Belgrade company Hidrotehnika–Hidroenergtika. According to the General Director of this company Dragisa Vuckovic, this is the largest consortium ever seen at a public auction and it was ready to give a bit over the offered price of 2.3 billion dinars. This is the largest sum ever paid at a public auction in Serbia. Compared to this, the sum of 49 million dinars, paid by Zivorad Denic for the Leskovac based company Metal, seems small.
Up until now a total of 1150 companies, which have updated and harmonized the financial records of their shareholders, have been registered in the temporary register of the Serbian Privatization Agency. Another 250 companies are waiting for their applications to be processed after data in the register is verified, says Director of the temporary register Goran Kunjadic for NIN. Only the owners of registered shares can freely trade them at the Belgrade Stock Exchange. Kunjadic predicts that no more than 2500 former socially owned companies will be registered. The temporary register has been evaluated and is now listed among the official registers of the Association of Custodians which consists of 10 well known banks including Citibank, Deutsche Bank, JPMorgan Chase. Fertilizer plants in Pancevo and Subotica are for sale. The Privatization Agency has announced the prospectus for these two companies and invited buyers to send letters of interest by April 11. For each company 70% of the capital is for sale.
The Serbian Radical Party accused the government yesterday of having no intention of fighting organized crime in Serbia. “Rather the entire story about fighting crime is only a way of removing competition for mafia groups run by the establishment.” In its statement the SRS asks why now when the state of emergency has been lifted, nobody is asking where Stanko Subotic Cane is and why nobody is mentioning him and has he suddenly become “a respectable member of society about whom nothing can be said or written.”
The Radicals repeated their allegation that Subotic was the “king of the tobacco mafia”, stressing that there is evidence that he was involved in “several criminal activities, mainly murder, kidnapping and drug trafficking in Serbia.” The SRS says that it has proof that part of the people arrested during the state of emergency were arrested under charges that could not stand “even in Stalin’s time”, while Subotic was not arrested and “did not jeopardize the security of Serbia in any way, according to the authorities.”
Cume Refused to Extort Money from Subotic (Blic, 17.05.2003; by: K. K.)
An international arrest warrant could soon be issued for Ratko Knezevic (40), former head of the Montenegrin trade mission in the US, under suspicion that he attempted to blackmail Serbian businessman Stanko Subotic Cane, according to Blic sources. Judge of the Second Municipal Court ordered detention and issued a central warrant for the territory of Serbia-Montenegro for Knezevic on May 9 because of his unavailability in these proceedings. When it is confirmed that Knezevic is not in Serbia-Montenegro, the Judge will issue an international arrest warrant which will, together with reports from the investigation and detention orders, be directed to the Serbia-Montenegro Ministry of Human and Minority Rights. If the Ministry approves the issue of a warrant the case will be forwarded to Interpol.
According to the demand for initiating proceedings, which the Second Municipal Court Prosecutor presented on March 25, it is suspected that in February 2001 at 68 Kneza Milosa Street, Ratko Knezevic attempted to blackmail Subotic, threatening him that he would reveal information to the media which could undermine his honor and reputation if he didn’t pay him a sum of 1.6 million Deutsch Marks. When Subotic refused, the media started printing articles of which the most damaging were those published in the Croatian Nacional from May 15 to 22 in 2001, it is stated. Subotic was referred to in these articles as a “tobacco mafia boss” and accused of several murders in Serbia.
Vlado Pavicevic, Subotic’s lawyer, says that his client had appeared before the Judge. Subotic has up until now given three statements, once before the Judge, said Pavicevic.
According to the lawyer, Subotic told the Judge that Knezevic had asked him for money in order not to write anything damaging about him in the Croatian Nacional and Dan from Podgorica, and that he had refused to comply.
Then Knezevic told him that he would see the next issue of Nacional and related to him what it would be about. Subotic then said to him that he would file a lawsuit against him. Indeed the article was printed, said Pavicevic.
Blic has found out that Ratko Djokic (55) is also a suspect in this case. Djokic was murdered on May 5 in Stockholm, and a warrant has been issued after him even though he is dead. The Judge will halt the proceedings against him when he is officially notified of his demise.
Ratko Djokic, according to the same charges, is suspected for inciting extortion. It is suspected that in February 2001 at 68 Kneza Milosa Street Djokic attempted to incite Ljubisa Buha Cume to extort 30 million Deutsch Marks from Cane for him. Djokic rang Buha and told him that Subotic allegedly owed 30 million Deutsch Marks to a third party who had promised to give him a percentage from the money. Djokic then told Buha that Subotic must be threatened that one of his loved ones would be killed and gave him Subotic’s address in Switzerland and Yugoslavia. Djokic told him that upon payment of the debt they would agree on what his reward should be.
Through his lawyer, Subotic filed a lawsuit at the Second Municipal Court on May 23 2001 against Knezevic and Djokic. The Prosecutor’s Office requested proceedings, and the Judge ordered detention and issued a central warrant on May 9.
Arrest Warrant Issued for Ratko Knezevic (Danas, 17.05.2003; by: Beta)
The Second Municipal Court in Belgrade has ordered the issuance of warrants for the former head of the Montenegrin Trade Commission in the US Ratko Knezevic and recently murdered businessman Ratko Djokic for attempted blackmail. According to a statement by Judge Ivona Lalovic, which was forwarded to the Beta agency by the lawyer of the plaintiff Stanko Subotic, Vlado Pavicevic from Belgrade, detention orders have been given for Knezevic and Djokic for 30 days and warrants have been issued for their apprehension. The warrant for deceased Ratko Djokic was issued in accordance with court procedures and will be revoked as soon as the Interior Ministry officially notifies the court of Djokic’s death.
According to the statement, on May 23, 2001, Subotic filed a lawsuit against the two men, and after an investigation, the Second Municipal Court requested the initiation of proceedings against Knezevic and Djokic on April 22, so that on May 9 the Judge ordered detention and issued warrants. One of the two suspects, Podgorica businessman Ratko Djokic (55), was murdered in Stockholm on May 5. Djokic, who was killed by two unidentified attackers, was linked for years with the tobacco mafia and drug dealing. His name became well known to the public after the Zagreb Nacional published a series of articles about the smuggling of tobacco in the Balkans.
Ratko Knezevic, former advisor to Milo Djukanovic denied yesterday evening in a statement to TV B92 that he had blackmailed businessman Stanko Subotic Cane. The Second Municipal Court in Belgrade has issued a warrant against Knezevic under suspicion that he tried to extort 1.6 million Deutsch Marks from Subotic.
“How is it that Subotic is believed when he says that I asked this of him, and it is he about whom it is being said that he is one of the organized crime bosses in the Balkans and that nobody in the current Serbian police operation has questioned him about anything, whether he knows anything about unresolved murder cases, money transfers, cigarettes and so forth,” said Knezevic.
Who is Protecting Cane Subotic? (Politika, 19.05.2003; by: Tanjug)
The Serbian Democratic Party stated yesterday that one of the two individuals known for finger-pointing against Stanko Subotic Cane, as the main tobacco smuggler in the Balkans with links with authorities in Serbia and Montenegro, Ratko Djokic, was recently murdered in Stockholm, and against the other one, Ratko Knezevic, the Serbian authorities have issued an arrest warrant. Is there a connection, the Party asks. It also stated that “taking advantage of the Interior Ministry’s operation against the Zemun Clan, Subotic became the majority owner in Duvan by purchasing shares at the stock exchange through his company D Trade, while the Share Fund is the minority owner.”
Police Do Not Make Arrests at the Request of Political Parties (Politika, 20.05.2003; by: Tanjug)
Stanko Subotic’s team of lawyers sent an open letter to the Democratic Party of Serbia yesterday in which they openly respond to the charges made in the Serbian media. “It is unusual and reckless that the DSS is taking the side of those accused of blackmail and extortion, and that they are accusing the victim in this case Stanko Subotic,” said the letter.
Explaining this stance, Subotic’s lawyers stated that in May 2001 Subotic had filed a lawsuit against Ratko Knezevic and Ratko Djokic for attempted blackmail and extortion and that Subotic had travelled to Belgrade three times to give statements for the Prosecutor’s Office and before the Judge, and that the two of them had not appeared before the court a single time.
“We have not seen for a long time that a political party (DSS) defends a person against whom a warrant has been issued, who is not a party member, not a public figure,” was the reaction of Subotic’s lawyers, who asked, “Is there anyone who is afraid that Ratko Knezevic might talk about those who ordered and financed the tobacco scandal?”
Subotic’s lawyers, independently of this, severely condemned the murder of Ratko Djokic, but recalled that the key witness against the two suspects is Blagota Sekulic, killed directly prior to his scheduled statement to the police. Regarding the question by the DSS as to why Subotic was left out of the Operation Sablja, the lawyers said that “the police do not arrest on the basis of the needs of political parties” and that the DSS, or any other party, should make available to the police evidence and information.
The same is true regarding the purchase of majority ownership in Duvan, about which the lawyers say it was a “transparent procedure” and that everything connected to this purchase was open to the public and “relevant state departments”. The lawyers concluded by saying that Subotic had not lost a single lawsuit (having filed a total of 80) defending against allegations exclusively through courts in the country and abroad.
Operation by Operation – Duvan (Vecernje Novosti, 21.05.2003; by: G. Bulatovic)
The D Trade company has taken over Duvan from Belgrade, having purchased 23,322 shares in Duvan, which is 50.23% of the total shares. Bojan Stevanovic, D Trade General Director, informed Novosti about the takeover. D Trade is in 100% ownership of Stanko Subotic Cane through his businesses abroad. According to Bojan Stevanovic, the takeover was carried out fully, through the Belgrade Stock Exchange in three phases. In the first purchase 4,504 shares or 9.7% of the total shares were bought on December 18 in 2002 at the price of 5,410 dinars per share, he explained. At that occasion, the total offer was represented by a few stock brokers. D Trade was represented by Ilirika Broker and Beopublika.
The second purchase of 15,893 shares, according to Stevanovic, amounted to 34.23% of the total shares, and was made on April 2 2003. The price was 3,463 dinars per share. The offer was made through a several stock brokers, including Mediolanum Invest, Stok Broker and Astesa Broker, while the sole buyer was represented by Sinteza Invest Grup. “We think that the interest in this firm meanwhile decreased because of a decision by Belgrade municipalities to remove some thirty best placed retail facilities of Duvan (kiosks), which dramatically reduced the market value of the firm,” said Stevanovic.
“D Trade, through the authorized broker, made its third purchase of 2,925 shares on May 7 this year, becoming the majority owner of Duvan. On that day we bought shares for the price of 3,010 dinars per share. Our intentions concerning Duvan are to transform it into a respectable retail chain and to set international standards in this area,” he said.
D Trade is a representative, importer and distributer of consumer goods. It was formed as a national business but with 100% foreign capital. Among others, it has exclusive contracts for representing the mineral water Perrier and the energy drink Sharks. It also has an exclusive contract with the Danish cigarette manufacturer House of Prince. D Trade has 78 employees and four distribution centers in Serbia.
Big Capital Takes Centre Stage (Blic, 14.06.2003; by: N. M. Jovanovic)
The economic council formed by President of Serbia and Montenegro Svetozar Marovic goes beyond the framework of the President’s jurisdiction according to the Constitution, and the members of the council are not competent for doing the work the council is supposed to do, economic experts state for Blic. Marovic appointed as members of the council president of the Association of the Industrialists of SCG and owner of BK Group Bogoljub Karic, president of Vekter Dragan Brkovic, president of Komercijalna Banka Ljubomir Mihajlovic, president of Kapital Banka Djordje Nicovic, president of the hotelier and tourism company Budvanska Riviera Ivo Armenko, president of C Market Slobodan Radulovic and Director of Si&Si Group Vojin Djordjevic. A statement from Marovic’s cabinet says that the council will “help the President in his efforts to strengthen the economic position of Serbia-Montenegro in international relations, adjust the country’s economy with international standards and prepare it for entering the process of European integration.”
Milan Kovacevic, an economist and foreign investment consultant, says that it would have been better if Marovic had called the council a business council.
“Harmonization with EU standards requires professionals and experts. I am surprised by Marovic’s decision. Perhaps he lost patience with experts and decided to make this choice,” said Kovacevic for Blic, stressing that Marovic must have independent experts with him “particularly as it is known that we should begin preparations for Serbia-Montenegro to join the WTO.”
Danijel Cvjeticanin, an economist, said for Blic, that the way the council has been formed “is symptomatic”.
“The list of people in the council is not complete. Miodrag Kostic, Stanko Subotic Cane and Dragoljub Markovic are missing. By the way those that were invited to join the council will certainly offer their help to the President, which he justifiably asks for,” says Cvijeticanin.
Nebojsa Medojevic from the Podgorica Centre for Transition said for Blic that the members of the council were not suitable for the purpose of the council. “This council can advise Marovic only on how to make money, because this is a group of people who have made money. An economic council should consist of independent experts who would advise Marovic from the perspective of general interest, and not the interests of private lobbyists. This council formed by Marovic is an open statement that owners of big businesses are active in Serbian politics. We have the same situation in Russia,” explained Medojevic, adding that it was perfectly legal and legitimate everywhere in the world to form financial lobbies but in this case they chose the wrong name for it.
Miroslav Prokopijevic, president of the Free Market Centre, said for Radio Belgrade 202 that the economic council appointed by Marovic was not “one which is needed by a serious politician”. He said that it was a positive sign that a state official chose to engage people from business circles at all, but that a good economic council was not supposed to have this kind of members.
“A good economic council should have two thirds of pro-market economists, and around 10% legal experts, and the rest should be businesspeople or prominent journalists. What stands out the most here is that several people with major credibility issues from the past have been appointed, which will prove to be a needless hindrance in this council. This is not the type of council needed by a serious politician or the kind which is formed anywhere else in the world,” said Prokopijevic.
For Serbian Minister of Finance Bozidar Djelic this was a surprise because, as Djelic says, this kind of body is not envisaged by the Constitution. “I can only say that I am surprised because the president of the state-union has no jurisdiction in economic issues. The only competency of the state-union is related to international financial institutions, but I think that the members of the council have nothing to do with those institutions,” Djelic told Beta agency. He stressed that the Constitutional Charter could not be altered in this way and that he expected the council formed by Marovic to go through the same procedure which all other bodies not specifically envisaged by the Charter, have to undergo.
President of the Employers Union of Serbia-Montenegro Dragutin Zagorac said that Svetozar Marovic’s decision to form the economic council was scandalous and politically unhealthy. “With this decision and by his choice of people Marovic revealed his economic and political ignorance and committed political suicide,” said Zagorac. He went on to say that the formation of the economic council was not in accordance with the Charter. He said it was “a politically and economically impermissible act” to put Bogoljub Karic at the head of the council, whom he accused of being “a big time profiteer”.
“If this is a personal act, Marovic could have done it with less pomp,” said Zaograc.
Smoke at the Top (Vecernje Novosti, 08.07.2003; by: C. Prelevic)
The publication of a “raw” report from the Prosecutor’s office in Naples about the smuggling of cigarettes through Montenegro by the Italian mafia has attracted enormous public attention in Podgorica, but no reaction comes from those “named” including top political functionaries.
Milo Djukanovic remains silent. His arrest was sought, allegedly, following the conclusion of the investigation in Naples, and it is almost impossible to reach him or statements by others mentioned in connection with this scandal.
The published documents and transcripts from phone tapping show that the main persons involved are Dusanka Jeknic, widow of former Montenegrin foreign minister Janko Jeknic, and business organizer Paolo Savino suspected of cigarette smuggling.
In a different context the Prime Minister of Montenegro is mentioned, along with his brother Aco Djukanovic, businessmen Srecko Kestner, Ratko Knezevic, Veselin Barovic, Branko Vujosevic and Stanko Subotic, as well as head of SDB Montenegro Dusko Markovic and current Finance Minister Miroslav Ivanisevic.
According to the version presented in the media, all these were in one way or the other linked to deals involving huge sums of money. The Naples Prosecutor’s report speaks particularly about the Nacional scandal and the allegations (based on a testimony by former Podgorica “king of cigarettes” Srecko Kestner), that the “political authorities” in Podgorica knew about cigarette smuggling.
“The chief and main responsibility” for cigarette smuggling falls on “a political figure” (obviously Milo Djukanovic) who, it is said “is the main beneficiary of the 10$ tax per cigarette pack smuggled.” “He invested all the illegally acquired money in banks in Switzerland, Cyprus, Lichtenstein and Lebanon,” says the report.
This last allegation was justified in some of the conversations of Dusanka Jeknic, including the talk No 169 from 30.8.2001 at 12.32, says the Naples Prosecutor. In phone conversations with Dusko Markovic, Veselin Barovic, Milo Djukanovic, a certain Damir Asovic and a person called Zoran, Jeknic talked about the visit of Rako Knezevic to Milan, at the time of the culmination of the Nacional scandal.
“I was then in Italy for an entirely different purpose, but they obviously followed me, which in itself is awful. They probably thought that I was the one who initiated the scandal which broke out because of the publications in Nacional, or that I am a CIA and KGB man all rolled into one,” said Ratko Knezevic for Novosti. He is currently living abroad. “From the tone of the conversation between Jeknic and Zoran and from the parts what where left out from the transcripts it could be said that perhaps they were cooking something else against me as well. Perhaps an assassination? If it is proved that they wanted to jeopardize my security, I will not hesitate to initiate court proceedings.”
Ratko Knezevic says that he personally had not taken part in any of the business dealings mentioned in the actual scandal, nor had he ever been involved in the “transit or smuggling of cigarettes. “One of many investigations is underway now and there will be more of them. At one point I had advised Djukanovic to talk with the Italian government in order to establish normal and proper relations between Italy and Montenegro, which is on record. But, in his circles there are many predatory people who do not want this. And there is a lot of money involved.”
Ivo Pukanic: Cane Subotic Finances Ceda, Beba and Milo (Balkan, 09.07.2003; by: A. Becic)
The Zagreb weekly Nacional was the first to write about the tobacco scandal. The owner of the weekly Ivo Pukanic stated yesterday for Balkan that Milo Djukanovic had known everything for a long time and that as a journalist he was not certain why any European official or any official from the rest of the world would like to talk with the first man of Montenegro.
“No country can prosper if it is involved in organized crime. Smuggling cannot defend national interests. The statement that Djukanovic will establish a self reliant state is ridiculous. That idea cannot be realized if they want to do this through organized crime. They will be self sufficient the day when the entire country ends its criminal activities. Until then, the world will not accept it,” said Pukanic.
“I am only sorry that everyone in the diplomatic circles knew what we were writing about, but they did not wish to react because of interests dearer to them, which is completely wrong,” said Pukanic, “the Montenegrin Prime Minister has intensive links with the Serbian DOS party top officials who protected him in pro-government media in Serbia, which he personally felt the last time during the state of emergency in Serbia.”
“Milo has called us thugs right up until now and they called me a smuggler. This was greatly welcomed also by people from your top political circles. While in Serbia a state of emergency was in place, on BK TV an interview with Ceda Jovanovic was broadcast in a show, I think it was called “It's Not Serbian to Keep Quiet”. In that interview he said that I was under house arrest because of my links with international smuggling. Immediately after the show I called Milomir Maric, the chief executive of BK TV because I knew him. I asked him how was it possible that he allowed such lies to be told about me. Maric replied that Ceda told him right after the show that he knew that this was a lie but that he had “thrown the ball in my court and that it was up to me to handle it”, said Pukanic.
He said that he had asked Maric to give him two minutes of air time in one of his shows to refute Jovanovic, but Maric told him that he could not do this because of the state of emergency.
“It was then that I broke all contact with Maric and I do not wish to ever see him again. By the way, Ceda Jovanovic belongs to Milo’s gang. They are all on the payroll of Stanko Subotic Cane, who is directly financing Vladimir Beba Popovic. This is my statement behind which I stand one hundred percent. Ask Beba who bought him the flat in Vienna and the BMW with tinted glass,” said Ivo Pukanic for the Balkan.
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