Book: Djukanovic Used Immunity in Cigarette Smuggling
Belgrade | 11 January 2010 | Bojana Barlovac
Milo Djukanovic (archive)
Francesco Forgione, a former Italian MP who led the Italian Parliament’s Anti-Mafia Commission from 2006 to 2008, says Montenegro’s Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic has not testified more often before an Italian court in a long-running tobacco smuggling case because he is being protected by immunity that his position gives him.
In a book titled ‚Mafia Export‘, published in Italy in December, Forgione sheds light on organised crime, citing the Montenegrin mafia and Djukanovic as one of the organisers of intenrational cigarette smuggling between 1994 and 2000.
Forgione added that court proceedings on the issue have to be completed soon.
According to a document at the Bari court in charge of the proceedings, for almost a decade, „Montenegro has been a haven for illegal trafficking, where criminals acted with impunity, while the ports of Bar and Kotor were used as logistic bases for motor boats, with protection which was guaranteed by the government.“
By 1999-2000 the illicit trade was worth several billion dollars annually, according to EU and US agencies.
The prosecutor at Bari’s court, Giuseppe Scelsi, has included Djukanovic in the investigation due to his alleged role in the smuggling.
The trial began in November 2001. Djukanovic was in Bari in March 2008 answering questions from the prosecution. Soon after that, the case in relation to him was archived.
„Judge Anna di Mauro refused the request for the issuance of a warrant to arrest Milo Djukanovic only because he had presidential immunity,“ the Forgione’s book reads.
Scelsi earlier announced that Djukanovic could be tried for his alleged involvement in cigarette smuggling once he leaves politics. Milo Djukanovic is being protected by immunity while he is the prime minister and chief of state. The moment he no longer has immunity, he will be able to be tried in a special procedure, different from the one that involves seven citizens from Montenegro and Serbia, which began on November 11, Scelsi told Podgorica daily Dan in November.
The Montenegrin prime minister said that he did not use his immunity when testifying before the Italian courts and that he will be suing Scelsi who used the immunity as an emergency exit from the uncomfortable circumstances of leading a ten-year investigation without arguments.
A court in Bari announced in November that a decision on possible court proceedings against a group of nationals from Montenegro, Italy and Serbia over their alleged involvement in the cigarette smuggling ring will be discussed on 18 January.
EU CARPO Reports: 2006 Situation Report on Organised and Economic Crime in South-eastern Europe
Strassburg Juni 2007
CARPO EU Report
CARPO Report EU Albanisch
CARPO Report EU Serbisch-Mazedonisch
Dirty money financed Montenegrin club
26 July 2009 | 12:20 | Source: Blic
BERN — A Swiss indictment on cigarette smuggling in the Balkans says that money gained in this way financed a well-known Montenegrin sports club.
The prosecution in the Swiss town of Bern claims that part of the illegal gains made by a criminal group of cigarette smugglers, made available in Switzerland, financed basketball club Budunost from Podgorica.
At the time, the club had strong results on the European level, with Veselin Barovi as its president at one point.
The indictment specifies that large sums of money were paid to the bank accounts of head coaches and players, including Miroslav Nikoli, Milenko Topi, Saa Obradovi, Vladimir Kuzmanovi, Dejan Tomaevi and others.
Two men identified as Franco del Tore and Paolo Savina obtained exclusive licenses for cigarette transit from Montenegrin authorities in the 1990’s.
Now the Swiss prosecution claims that Del Tore paid millions to Zetatrans company and the state-owned firm Montenegro Tobacco Transit in transit taxes, but that payments were also made to now Montenegrin PM Milo ukanovi, his family members, ministers and aides.
Zetatrans, in charge of transporting cigarettes, is believed to have received USD 120mn.
This indictment mentions Milo ukanovi, Stanko Suboti, Branko Vujoevi, Veselin Barovi, Goran Rako
evi, Milan Petrovi, Duanka Jekni and arko Markovi, as well as a number of other Montenegrin officials.
Rehn: Crime biggest obstacle for Montenegro
28 November 2008
EU Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn said yesterday that corruption and organized crime were the main obstacles on Montenegros EU path.
Rehn said that Montenegro would decide on its own when to apply for EU membership, adding that the EU Council of Ministers would have more important things to discuss at its December session, such as the financial crisis and the challenges facing the EU.
Olli Rehn (FoNet, archive)
Olli Rehn (FoNet, archive)
Rehn told Podgoricas TV Vijesti that Montenegro was progressing generally on its EU path, especially in the fields of the judiciary and the rule of law, adding that issues such as tackling corruption and organized crime still remained the countrys main challenge.
The EU expects Montenegro to go to greater lengths in tackling these issues, Rehn said .
„The harder Montenegro clamps down on corruption and organized crime, the bigger its chances of making more progress, Rehn said, adding that membership could not be achieved before the country conducts major reforms.
„This means that the ball is in Montenegros court, in a certain respect, he said, adding that there was a right time for everything in life.
Organised crime and corruption
Montenegro has an unsavoury reputation as a haven for smuggling and organised crime, and for the corruption of its public officials. Much of this relates to the troubled decade of the 1990s, when the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (the rump of the old Yugoslavia consisting of Serbia and Montenegro) was under international sanctions. The collapse of Yugoslavia had brought federal subsidies to a sudden end, leaving Montenegro with a cash crisis. The smuggling of fuel and other goods from Albania became part of its survival strategy, bringing with it a range of social ills that have taken many years to bring under control.
To gain hard-currency earnings, Montenegro engaged in a complex, multinational tax-evasion scheme politely termed the cigarette transit business. International smugglers would bring huge shipments of cigarettes bought in Switzerland, Belgium or other Western countries to Montenegro, often by plane to Podgorica airport. The cigarettes were then shipped to the port of Bar and loaded on speedboats for shipment to Italy, where they could be sold on.