Montenegro’s central bank says Serbian company wants to buy Prva Banka

By bne IntelliNews November 11, 2023

Montenegro’s central bank said on November 10 it has received a request for approval of the purchase of a 50% stake in Prva Banka Montenegro from a Serbian company, not a Bosnian businessman as previously reported.

A day earlier, regional media reported that Dalibor Matic, a businessman from Bosnia & Herzegovina’s Republika Srpska, was buying a controlling stake in Montenegrin Prva Banka, of which the main shareholder is Aco Djukanovic, brother of former president and prime minister Milo Djukanovic.

The central bank did not disclose the name of the Serbian company that has asked to acquire the 50% stake in Prva Banka but noted it was not connected to the Bosnian businessman.

Several months earlier, Montenegrin media reported that Serbia's state-owned Banka Postanska Stedionica was holding talks to acquire a majority stake in Montenegro’s Prva Banka Crne Gore.

Prva Banka has been at the centre of controversy in the past, when anti-corruption NGOs dubbed the bank the “personal ATM” of Djukanovic’s family and close allies. In July 2021, the government withdrew deposits worth €13.1mn from the bank.

In 2016, MEPs called for pressure to be put on the Montenegrin authorities to start an investigation into Prva Banka over allegations the bank had been involved in money laundering.

The call followed a 2012 report from the Organised Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) on the bank that showed the concerns raised by the Montenegrin central bank about Prva Banka’s lending practices ahead of the global financial crisis and its bailout by the government and a €100mn deposit from Italian company A2A after its investment into EPCG.

In November 2021, BIRN published wiretapped conversations of Albanian businessman Rezart Taci, who is accused in Albania of involvement in an international money laundering scheme, in which Taci said he had involved Djukanovic in money transfers to Prva Banka. Prva Banka has denied the allegations.

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