Serbian prosecutors seek 12-year jail term for tycoon Miroslav Miskovic

By bne IntelliNews May 27, 2016

Serbia’s deputy prosecutor Tamara Ristic asked on May 26 for a 12-year prison sentence for one of the country’s richest men, Delta Holding owner Miroslav Miskovic, who is accused of tax evasion and abuse of office, news agency Tanjug reported.

Miskovic’s arrest back in December 2012 was an unprecedented event in Serbia, and contributed significantly to Aleksandar Vucic’s victory in the March 2014 election, gaining him the title “anti-corruption king”. Since then, however, relatively few high-profile arrests for corruption have been made in Serbia, and little effort has been made to bring those close to former dictator Slobodan Milosevic to justice.

Miroslav Miskovic, his son Marko and their partner Milo Djuraskovic were arrested in a case related to the privatisation of several road construction companies. Serbian organised crime prosecutors filed an indictment against the Miskovic father and son and seven others in May 2013 following a six-month investigation into suspected illegal dealings between 2005 and 2010. The prosecution's indictment says they illegally siphoning off funds and assets, causing some RSD17bn (€142mn) of damages to the road companies and RSD472mn damage to the Serbian state budget.

Marko Miskovic was sentenced to three and a half years in prison for tax evasion in March. Miroslav Miroslav's verdict was not announced at the same time because the case against him was separated from those of the other defendants late last year because of his poor health.

Miroslav Miskovic told the court on May 26 that the prosecution had no proof, and that his company never made any mistakes in doing business. Delta’s tax adviser is Big 4 financial services company KPMG.

Ristic urged the special court to fine Miskovic, but did not specify the sum, Tanjug reported.

Miskovic spent more than seven months in jail and was released from custody in July 2013 on a €12mn bail. His trial was launched in autumn of the same year. He has denied the accusations and has said he would resort to international arbitration to try to solve his dispute with the state.

Delta is active in real estate, agriculture, distribution and tourism, and has continued to grow despite the arrest of its founder, who is no longer very active on the ground. In 2015, its turnover reached €441mn. Delta said on April 19 that its earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (Ebitda) increased 4.8% y/y in Q1 2016 to RSD1.64bn (€13.3mn).

It also started the construction of an InterContinental hotel in Ljubljana on December 23. Delta’s investment in Slovenia is worth €42mn, business portal Ekapija reported at the time. The InterContinental hotel in Ljubljana will be the first five-star hotel in the city as well as the first Intercontinental hotel in the entire region and thus is seen as an additional driver of tourism in Slovenia and SEE.

 

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