CINS reveals: citizens donated close to 13 million euros to the parties, money laundering possibly involved

Photo: Marko Rupena / Kamerades

Serbian citizens donated a total of 1.5 billion Serbian dinars (close to 13 million euros) to the Democratic Party (DS), the Socialist Party of Serbia (SPS) and the Serbian Progressive Party (SNS) between 2012 and 2018, according to a research of the parties’ financial statements, conducted by the Center for Investigative Journalism of Serbia (CINS).

Parties in power attract more contributions – in 2012 and 2013 the Democratic Party was in the lead in both respects, but all in all the Serbian Progressive Party cashed in half of the total value. About a third of the donations came from Belgrade, Serbia’s capital city.

Donations include monetary contributions, but also gifts in real estate and services. According to CINS, Velibor Jovanović, a Progressive Party member from Kruševac city, donated 1.3 million euros in real estate located in New Belgrade to the SNS. The case in question is particularly interesting both because the donation exceeded the limit prescribed by the Law on Financing Political Activities, and because the SNS did not return the excessive contribution to its donor within 15 days, which it was obliged to according to the same law. The same donor also donated offices in Kruševac to the Progressives, which was omitted in the SNS’s financial report.

Numerous smaller donations, identical in amount, attracted attention of the Anti-Corruption Agency and the Administration for the Prevention of Money Laundering. Sums of 19 000 RSD (160€) and 40 000 RSD (340€) were paid to the SNS by thousands of citizens: often people who had previously put that same amounts into their own accounts –and sometimes, even stranger, recipients of social assistance. It is believed that the SNS finances elections and its regular activities in this way. Due to suspicion that this is a money laundering scheme, in 2017, the Agency reported these activities to the Higher Public Prosecutor’s Office.

Legal entities transferred around 182 million dinars (roughly a milion and a half euros) to the parties, out of which the Socialist Party profited the most. Irregularities were detected in corporate donations as well. The Serbian Anti-Corruption Agency, for example, filed misdemeanor charges after Belgrade mayoral elections in 2018 because as many as 4 companies exceeded the limit of individual donations to the citizens’ group led by Dragan Đilas. According to CINS, private companies supported his campaign with a total of 58 million dinars (half a million euros) – out of which as many as 40 million (roughly 340 000€) were donated by companies in Đilas’ ownership.

Read the details of the research here.

I.K.

Translation from Serbian: Iskra Krstić

This article was originally published in Serbian on May 28, 2020.

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