Officials from Serbia’s ministry of interior (MUP) visited the country’s national power utility Elektroprivreda Srbije (EPS) on November 28 and are checking the company's recent business dealings, state news agency Tanjug reported.
The probe has not been officially confirmed, but news of the MUP’s check came shortly after daily Blic reported that millions of euros have been looted from EPS and 15 managers from its subsidiary EPS Snabdevanje have been dismissed.
Commenting on reports of a probe at EPS, Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic said that he would have "precise information" on November 29.
Vucic told reporters he has requested information about the public enterprise, and would address the topic "once he receives the data on 100 pages."
"I'm not running away from talking about EPS. That public company has never had higher liquidity… A serious axe is being readied and would affect the jobs of many people who got rich at the expense of the state," he said, B92 reported on November 28.
EPS Snabdevanja managers increased the price charged to large buyers without permission and without the knowledge of senior managers, according to Blic’s findings. This resulted in the company losing multiple tenders, including for 300 very large buyers.
According to Blic, this was the reason why EPS director Milorad Grcic has dismissed 15 heads of EPS Snabdevanje, including the head of joint projects of EPS Group Vojin Trifunovic, the director of the sales department for strategic buyers Zoran Milasinovic and the head of the department for energy purchase Goran Bogdanovic. There are also suspicions concerning former EPS Snabdevanje director Dragan Jeremic, who has already left the company.
Alongside gas monopoly Srbijagas and Serbian Railways, EPS is one of three state-owned giants where the slow reform process has been strongly criticised by international financial institutions, primarily by the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) as well as by the independent Fiscal Council of Serbia.
EPS is among the largest employers in Serbia with about 36,000 employees, whose salaries have been far above the average in the country. EPS’s restructuring including a mandatory workforce reduction is therefore one of main conditions for establishing sustainable public finances in Serbia.
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