Montenegro Charges Ex-Mayor of Scandal-Hit Resort

Montenegro’s prosecution charged the ex-mayor of the resort of Budva and nine other top officials and businessmen in a high-profile, multi-million-euro corruption case.


The Montenegrin state prosecutor on Monday charged ex-mayor Lazar Radjenovic and several other officials from the scandal-hit resort town of Budva with abuse of office and costing the local budget eight million euros. They are accused of committing fraud during the construction of installations for the purification of waste water, in a deal between the municipality of Budva and the Montenegrin branch of the German-based company WTE Wassertechnik GmbH.
A representative of the German company, Dragan Vukadinovic, who was also charged, is a councillor from Montenegro’s ruling Democratic Party of Socialists which holds a mayority of seats in the local parliament in Budva. If Vukadinovic is arrested because of the charges, the ruling party led by Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic could lose its majority in Budva, local media reported. “The police/prosecutorial activities already carried out lead to the suspicion that the suspects teamed up in 2010 to commit criminal offences and created a criminal group with the aim of acquiring illicit gain or power,” a police statement said. Two Serbian nationals, owners of the Budva-based companies Biochem Industries and Tradeunique, which were involved in the construction of the water plant, were also charged with abuse of office. “They are all suspected of illegal activities in connection with the construction of facilities for waste water in Budva, costing the municipality of Budva eight million euro,” police said.
All those accused in the high-profile corruption case have not commented on the prosection charges so far. Radjenovic and several other local officials were arrested in August, 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 using their postions fot the benefit of a private company and of costing the municipal budget more than two million euro over the Jaz Beach project alone.
Radjenovic, who resigned as Budva’s mayor in September, was also arrested in 2013 on suspicion of having cost the town two million euro in 2007 when he ensured that the municipality gave a security guarantee for a bank loan to a private company, Luna SP.
The new charges have put the spotlight back on the issue of corruption in Montenegro in general 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, others believe that all that is happening is a settling of scores within the ruling 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


Balkan Insight 

02 December 2015