“Thaler” – The SPO initiated an investigation on the illegal financing of VMRO-DPMNE

 

There is justified suspicion that 11 people in total have committed a crime – Money Laundering and Other Proceeds of Crime under Article 273, Paragraph 5 in relation to Paragraph 1 of the Criminal Code, 9 of whom are suspected of having direct involvement and two of aiding.

 

In the press conference that took place on 22 May 2017, the Special Prosecution Office (SPO) announced that it has initiated a new investigation with a working title “Thaler”. This investigation is about the illegal financing of VMRO-DPMNE, and according to the SPO, there is justified suspicion that 4.9 million euro were abused in the period from 2009 to 2015. As a result of the investigation, the SPO requests freezing of part of VMRO-DPMNE’s property, including the party’s new building. There are 11 suspects in this case.

Telma TV station said that the prime suspect is VMRO-DPMNE’s leader, Nikola Gruevski, and other suspects are the three secretary generals of the party in that period (2009-2015): Martin Protugjer, Kiril Bozhinovski and Emil Dimitriev, people responsible in the Communications Center: Ilija Dimovski, Ivo Kotevski and Aleksandar Bichikliski. The list of these suspect is completed by Elizabeta Chingarovska, Daniela Rangelova, Igor Esmerov and Leko Ristovski.

During the presentation of this case, the prosecutor Fatime Fetai said that:

It involves the illegal funding of the political party VMRO-DPMNE. Reasonable suspicion exists that even though the main suspect as president of the political party was familiar with the legal restrictions, nevertheless, he allowed funding of the political party in the period from 2009 until the end of 2015 which was contrary to the legal provisions, and the motives were personal and were related to the strengthening of his political power and position in the party and the state as well as ensuring full control over the political party.

Reasonable suspicion exists that the main suspect accepted the illicit funds for financing the political party and neither returned them to the persons from whom they originated, nor deposited them to National Budget of RM, as prescribed by the Law on Financing Political Parties, in order to be used for charities, but instead retained the illegal funds and enabled accumulation of illegal capital for the financing of the political party. Hence, a reasonable suspicion exists that the main suspect as the person responsible committed the criminal offence Abuse of Official Position and Authorization.

The evidence obtained in the preliminary investigation give rise to a reasonable suspicion that the main suspect, with the intention of enabling funding of the political party with the money generated by his criminal activity, formed a group of people who will launder the money, and along with other suspects deposited the funds, which are proceeds of crime, through the local organizations of the political party into the account of the party.

Reasonable suspicion exists that the funds were deposited in cash, by using false data in the payment slips, and the funds obtained through illegal activity were deposited by abusing the personal data of the members of the political party, whereby, in the period from 2009 to the end of 2015, a total of 301,531,662.00 MKD or nearly 4.9 million EUR were deposited into the bank account of the party through cash payments.

At the same time, evidence give rise to the reasonable suspicion that some of the suspects, in order to conceal the illicit source of the money, presented these payments in the register of donations and the annual balance sheet as lawful payments, whereas the funds obtained illegally which were deposited on the account of the political party were used to cover liabilities taken on by some of the suspects on behalf of the party, followed by payments made from the bank account…

Hence, 11 persons are suspected of having committed the criminal offence Money Laundering and Other Proceeds of Crime under Article 273, paragraph 5 in relation to paragraph 1 of the Criminal Code, 9 of whom are suspected of having direct involvement and two of aiding and abetting.

Furthermore, we have reasons to suspect that this was not the only illegal financing scheme of the political party. Namely, reasonable suspicion exists that the main suspect, as the person responsible, violated the legal restriction prescribed by the Law on Financing Political Parties by allowing the legal entity DG “Beton” AD Skopje, which at the same time had contracts for the award of public procurement, to provide services to the political party VMRO-DPMNE.

The entire press conference is available here, whereas the media reports concerning this event are available here (in Macedonian).

 


This article was created within the framework of the Project to increase the accountability of the politicians and political parties Truthmeter implemented by Metamorphosis. The article is made possible by the generous support of the National Endowment for Democracy(NED) and The Balkan Trust for Democracy (BTD), a project of the German Marshall Fund of the United States, an initiative that supports democracy, good governance, and Euroatlantic integration in Southeastern Europe. The content is the responsibility of its author and does not necessarily reflect the views of Metamorphosis, National Endowment for Democracy, the Balkan Trust for Democracy, the German Marshall Fund of the United States, or its partners.

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