Montenegro Arrests Bosses of Scandal-Hit Resort

Montenegro police on Thursday arrested the mayor of the resort of Budva and four other top officials on corruption charges.

Lazar Radjenovic, Mayor of Budva

Lazar Radjenovic, Mayor of Budva

Police on Thursday arrested the mayor and several other officials of the scandal-hit resort town of Budva, on suspicion of abuse of office and of damaging the local budget to the tune of millions of euros.

Mayor Lazar Radjenovic, former mayor Rajko Kuljaca, deputy mayor Dragan Marovic and local official Milena Marovic Bogdanovic are all under arrest – as is Alexander Ticic, an advisor to Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic. After a hearing before the the Special Prosecutor for Organized Crime and Corruption on Thursday, all of the above were placed in 48-hour detention.

Marovic’s attorney, Zdravko Begovic, said his client was suspected of organized crime and that the police had arrested several persons who were in leadership positions when a contract was concluded between the Municipality of Budva as investor and a private company Trade Unique, as subinvestor. Begovic explained that, according to the Prosecution, the municipal budget had suffered damage of 7 million euros and that Marovic had pleaded not guilty.

Marovic and Marovic Bogdanovic are the brother and daughter of Svetozar Marovic, the former president of the State Union of Serbia and Montenegro. Five other local officials have also been arrested in a case that centres on illegal construction work carried out at Jaz beach and the TQ Plaza building in 2007 and 2008. They are suspected of abusing their offices to benefit a private company and of damaging the municipal budget by more than 2 million euro in the Jaz beach case alone. Kuljaca and Marovic were already sentenced last July in a case involving illegal construction work at Zavala hill in Budva in 2007 and 2008. Kuljaca was jailed for five years while Marovic was jailed for four. The Court of Appeals earlier this year overturned the verdict, however. The retrial is pending. Mayor Radjenovic was earlier arrested in 2013 on suspicion of having lost the town 2 million euro in 2007 when he offered coverage to a private company, Luna SP, with no guarantee. The dramatic arrests have put the spotlight back on the wider issue of corruption in Montenegro and within the ruling Democratic Party of Socialists, led by Prime Minister Djukanovic. While some say the arrests and trials show that Montenegro is finally dealing with high-level corruption, other say all that is occuring is a settling of scores within the strongest party. The European Union has made a more effective fight against organized crime and corruption one of Montenegro’s seven key priorities if it wants to advance towards membership. It has been frequently urged to prosecute more high-profile corruption cases.


13 August 2015