Asset declarations of Montenegro’s President under public scrutiny

January 2019
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Asset declarations of Montenegro’s President under public scrutiny. Among number of affairs initiated by Mr Dusko Knezevic, the owner of Atlas bank indicted for money laundering, a long list of allegations is also tied to current President and former Prime Minister of Montenegro, Milo Đukanović. Mr Knezevic has submitted documentation proving that he paid the debt of Mr Djukanovic on his revolving card in the amount of €16,000 euros in 2016. NGOs invited Agency for Prevention of Corruption to issue misdemeanour order to Mr Djukanovic, for not declaring an increase in assets larger than €5000 and for failing to report the gift in the amount of €16000, or debt on revolving cards, but the Agency for Prevention of Corruption declined the initiative and stated that settling public officials’ debt on revolving cards cannot be considered as a gift.


Ex-mayor of Podgorica caught on tape receiving $100,000 USD for party funding

January 2019
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Ex-mayor of Podgorica caught on tape receiving $100,000 USD for party funding. Mr Dusko Knezevic, indicted in case where €500 million were allegedly laundered through his banks, has submitted to the media the footage of himself handing an envelope containing €97.500 euros to former mayor of Podgorica Slavoljub Stijepović prior to his electoral campaign rally in Zeta (Podgorica). The Agency for Prevention of Corruption concluded that there are no indications that Democractic Party of Socialists has received private donations in amount which exceeds the legal barrier, which is two thousand euros for donations by natural entities and ten thousand for donations by legal entities. However, the ex-Mayor of Podgorica was indicted by the Special State Prosecution for money laundering through assistance.

Mr Knezevic has also submitted to the media the audio file where Vice governor of the Central Bank of Montenegro, Velibor Milošević extorts the money from him, needed to bribe 6 controllers of Central bank. In the recording it is clearly audible that the report on operations of the Atlas bank, in possession of Mr Knezevic will be negative unless he bribes 6 controllers in amounts of €5-6000 each. Mr Milosevic was arrested and charged with abuse of public office.


Criminal charges pressed for laundering of more than €500m

December 2018
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Criminal charges pressed for laundering of more than €500m. The Police put forward criminal charges against 174 physical persons and legal entities, including six former and present employees of Atlas Bank, for money laundering. The investigating judge initiated an investigation against the president of the Atlas group and several suspects from his companies for alleged money laundering through the E-commerce service of Atlas Bank from November 2011 until November 2018.


The property of the Honorary Consul of the Netherlands in Montenegro seized

December 2018
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The property of the Honorary Consul of the Netherlands in Montenegro seized. The Special State Prosecution has requested seizure of the several million Euro’s worth of property of the Honorary Consul of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Montenegro, Mr Lambertus Vos. This property was previously frozen during the course of the money laundering investigation conducted by Dutch authorities, based on charges that he had laundered money through his real estate investments in Montenegro.


The State Audit Institution and Supreme State Prosecution of Montenegro pledge to jointly accelerate processing of economic crimes

December 2018
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The State Audit Institution and Supreme State Prosecution of Montenegro pledge to jointly accelerate processing of economic crimes. On 5 December 2018, representatives of the State Audit Institution (SAI) and the Supreme State Prosecution (SSP) of Montenegro signed the Protocol on Cooperation aimed at making the process of identification and prosecution of criminal activities more efficient. The Supreme State Prosecutor underlined that the Protocol will be a tool to overcome two major obstacles to effective investigations: inability of the prosecution service to adequately understand and interpret findings of audit reports and lack of capacities of auditors to put forward sufficiently substantiated criminal charges. Signing the Protocol on Cooperation was one of the recommendations provided to the authorities through the CoE/EU Horizontal Facility Action against Economic Crime in Montenegro.


Montenegro authorities begin the update of the National AML/CFT Risk Assessment

November 2018
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Montenegro authorities begin the update of the National AML/CFT Risk Assessment. Montenegro has begun updating its National Anti-Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing National Risk Assessment (NRA) with a two-day workshop supported by the CoE/EU Horizontal Facility Action against Economic Crime in Montenegro (AEC-MNE). The process is being coordinated by the Financial Intelligence Unit of Montenegro.


Abuse of state resources in Montenegrin Parliament under investigation

November 2018
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Abuse of state resources in Montenegrin Parliament under investigation. The trial started in a case of abuse of state resources, related to an employee of the Parliament who allegedly paid €200,000 to MPs for travel and subsistence costs without proper record/justification. Additionally, the person is also accused of embezzling €35,000 for personal purposes. The employee defended herself saying that she acted upon superiors’ orders.


Corruption case opened against former Mayor of Podgorica might fail due to statute of limitations

November 2018
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Corruption case opened against former Mayor of Podgorica might fail due to statute of limitations. The High Court decided not to merge the proceedings related to fraud, misuse of official position, and selling municipal land without a public tender by the former mayor of Podgorica and DPS official Mugosa, with those against associates of the same individuals. The Special Prosecution proposed the merging, but the High Court decided against it and suspended the proceedings due to exceeded time limit. If the Appellate Court does not accept the appeal by the Prosecution, all relevant evidence will be lost. The defendants of the case pleaded not guilty and refused the possibility of a plea bargain with the Prosecution.


Suspects acquitted for money-laundering suing the state for unlawful detention

October 2018
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Suspects acquitted for money-laundering suing the state for unlawful detention. Dusko Saric and Jovica Loncar, acquitted in April by the Supreme Court from all the charges related to alleged multi-million money-laundering, decided to sue the state for €400,000 for unlawful detention. The two individuals were convicted back in 2013 for laundering €20 million from drug trafficking activities. The convictions (as well as the subsequent two convictions) were all overthrown by higher instance courts including by the Court of Appeal on 27 September 2017. In the first instance judgment, the High Court had sentenced the two of them to 11 years of prison.


Ongoing disputes on interpretation of the Law of State Audit Institutions and Agency for Prevention of Corruption

October 2018
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Ongoing disputes on interpretation of the Law of State Audit Institutions and Agency for Prevention of Corruption. The State Audit Institution (SAI) has issued a negative opinion on the annual financial report of New Serbian Democracy (NOVA) party due to the transfer of €91,000 from their regular account to the account for the financing of an electoral campaign. NOVA is claiming that such a transfer is legal and they base their claim on the interpretation of the Law on Financing of Political Entities and Electoral Campaigns given by the Agency for Prevention of Corruption (APC). This is not the first case where these two institutions have contradicting views on the same issue[*].

 

[*] In the framework of the EU/CoE Horizontal Facility Action against Economic Crime in Montenegro, the Council of Europe developed a Technical Paper analysing the legal framework for party financing and providing recommendations to be taken into consideration in the ongoing reform process of the electoral legislation.