Former Serbia and Montenegro president Marovic gets four-year sentence over Budva affair

Former Serbia and Montenegro president Marovic gets four-year sentence over Budva affair
Case concerns the construction of a shopping mall in the Adriatic resort of Budva
By Denitsa Koseva in Sofia May 17, 2016

Svetozar Marovic, the former president of Serbia and Montenegro, has signed an agreement with Montenegro’s special prosecution, pleading guilty over his role in the so-called “Budva affair”, news service CDM reported on May 17. In exchange, Marovic will serve four years in jail.

This is the first case in Montenegro in which a top politician and members of his family will actually be sentenced to jail. The European Commission has repeatedly urged the country to show more results in its fight against corruption and organised crime.

In early May, Marovic’s brother Dragan and his son Milos also signed agreements and admitted their guilt in the same case.

Marovic was arrested on December 17 on reasonable doubt that he was involved in the Budva affair. He has been under investigation for four years on suspicion of abuse of office leading to suspected damages of over €120mn.

The case concerns the construction and management of the Plaza shopping mall in the Adriatic resort of Budva, a joint project between the municipality and a private company, Trade Unique. Marovic and several others are suspected of colluding to benefit Trade Unique.

CDM quoted a report from local daily Dnevne Novine saying that Marovic has admitted that he was the leader of a criminal organisation which he had set up aiming to gain illegal benefits from property. According to Marovic, the group included 30 people. Dnevne Novine reported that Marovic has given their names and functions as well as explaining how the group stole the money and transferred it abroad.

Apart from Marovic’s brother and son, the police arrested also his aunt Mirjana, while his daughter Milena Marovic-Bogdanovic and his son’s mother-in-law, Dragica Popovic, are under investigation.

Dragan agreed to stay in jail for 17 months, while Milos agreed on a year, RTCG reported.

Other key actors in the Budva affair have been arrested over the last three months. In August last year, police arrested several high-ranking municipal officials, including the town’s current mayor Lazar Radjenovic and former mayor Rajko Kuljaca. So far, more than 20 people have been arrested on charges of being involved in the Budva affair.

Marovic was the sole president of the loose union between Serbia and Montenegro between 2003 and its disintegration in 2006. During this time, he worked with Montenegro’s current Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic to help Montenegro break away from Serbia, and is currently head of the political council of Djukanovic’s DPS.