How much exactly did Jeremic’s "patriotism" cost us – private jets, luxurious hotels, contracts worth millions of euros, scandalous monetary transactions on his way to become “the president of the world?”
Who is actually the former Minister of Foreign Affairs in Boris Tadic’s Government, the youngest Chief of Diplomacy, an unsuccessful nominee for “the president of the World”, and a candidate for the president of Serbia – Vuk Jeremic?
Vuk Jeremic, a candidate in the presidential elections in Serbia and the former top diplomat in Tadic’s Government, has several faces. In Serbia, he represents himself as a fighter against injustice, corruption, poverty and a defender of state interests. As he often likes to emphasize, his greatest achievement during his term in office as Minister of Foreign Affairs, was his battle for Serbia’s national interests, that is, for the preservation of Kosovo as a constituent part of our country. However, the results of this “battle”, and the image he has been trying to create about himself are quite opposite to reality: By the end of Jeremic’s term of office, Kosovo independence was recognized by 91 countries, and since he left the position, 22 more countries followed!?
While he was presenting himself to the world as “ the undisputed leader in the anti-Milosevic’s movement” (source: Wikileaks), it is little known that the young Vuk Jeremic was actually a socialist (source: Nedeljnik) and that, being Kostunica’s young minister, he was nicknamed: “Kostunica with a laptop” precisely due to his evident Russophilia.
However, none of the above would be considered an obstacle for the presidential candidacy of a man who flirted with both the East and the West, a caricature of Josip Broz, imitating both his style and his political views. Yet, his unrestrained ambition is disputable with respect to the citizens of Serbia because, throughout the years of him holding public office, Jeremic developed an obsessive fantasy about himself as a member of the global jet set, the political elite, and the highest world class. Jeremic’s “political dream” of himself as a highly-ranked global leader, “the president of the world”, has resulted in an enormous expenditure of state resources, a vulgar waste of the Serbia’s poor citizens tex money and the final decision to continue with such a megalomaniac practice given his potential victory in the presidential election.
An investigative work of journalists that lasted for months, involved collocutors and associates who shared some points of contact with Jeremic’s activities, the compilation of hundreds of documents and the cross-referencing of the information that the journalists of the Antidot Media Network have acquired, indicate that Jeremic’s “battle for the preservation of Serbia’s territorial integrity” was nothing but an excuse for massive legal violations, outrageous extravagance and extravagant behavior of this state official. Jeremic’s alleged battle for Kosovo was actually a cover for his obsessive mission to fulfil his personal ambitions, namely to ensure the votes of a sufficient number of UN members for his appointment to the position of the president of the UN General Assembly and then to the position of the Secretary General of this world organization.
Case 1: Tit for tat diplomacy
During his five year term of office as Minister of Foreign Affairs, Vuk Jeremic spent more than 3.6 million euros from the budget of the Republic of Serbia on his luxurious trips around the world. Travel expenses of Tadic’s foreign minister were covering everything that Jeremic could wish for– from overnight stays that cost thousands of euros to spending 220 average Serbian salaries for just one flight on a private jet.
During his five-year term of office as Minister of Foreign Affairs, Vuk Jeremic spent more than 3.6 million euros from the budget of the Republic of Serbia on his luxurious trips. The scope of those costs is best illustrated with information that more money was spent on Jeremic’s trips alone than on travel expenses of the entire Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 2014. Jeremic’s travels entailed enormous costs at the most luxurious chains of exclusive world hotels visited by “jet-set” billionaires, the most expensive plane tickets to the farthest destinations in the world, the renting of private planes, staying in luxurious resorts with arrangements that only the members of the Forbes 100 can afford nowadays. Though he spent almost four million euros from the budget of the state of Serbia on his stays and trips that only kings and sovereigns can afford, and although the entire diplomatic and consular network of ambassadors, restaurants, accommodations, drivers, couriers, security and the arrangements of the hosts who were paying the costs of his stays were available to him, Jeremic also took for himself 55,000 euro of Per Diems having thus doubled the total amount of his five-year salary as the foreign minister of the Serbian Government.All information presented in the text are documented by publicly available lists provided by the FM, the Report of the State Audit Institution (DRI) from 2012 and the registry of the Business Registers Agency (APR).
Privatization of the ministry for a lucrative business opportunity for his wife’s cousin
During his term of office, Jeremic entrusted the procurement of plane tickets for his trips exclusively to the Aeroklub Company and he did it without a contract in writing and without implementing regular procedures of public procurement. In a report created after inspecting the financial operations of the FM in 2011, the State Audit Institution (DRI) pointed to Aeroklub as a company from which the Ministry procured plane tickets the most, while the ministry was governed by Vuk Jeremic.
In a report created following the inspection, the State Audit Inspection (DRI) concluded that payments were made in 2011 to Aeroklub Limited Liability Company from Belgrade in the total amount of 42.2 million RSD (approximately 360,000 euros) based on invoices without having a signed contract and without the implementation of regular procedures of public procurement. Regarding this, DRI warned that, by buying the plane tickets from Aeroklub, the Ministry violated two laws – the Law on Budget System from 2009 and the Law on Public Procurements from 2009. For comparison's sake, in the same period, the state-owned company Jat Airways JSC was paid, for plane tickets, from the FM budget a sum three times smaller, i.e. only RSD 13 million.
However, the payments to Aeroklub in 2011 are only a part of what this privileged company benefited from Jeremic’s department. While he was in charge of running the FM for five years, Aeroklub was paid approximately 180 million rsd for the plane tickets. According to the financial reports of Aeroklub in 2010 and 2011, which are publicly available in the registry of the Business Registers Agency (APR), it is concluded that over 90 percent of Aeroklub’s business revenue was realized through deals with the Foreign Ministry. Accordingly, the report of 2011 shows that total business revenues amounted to 35.7 million rsd and increased by VAT (which is not given in the item referring to business revenues) they amounted to 42.8 million rsd. That year the Foreign Ministry paid 42.4 million rsd to Aeroklub for the procurement of plane tickets and this represented 99.1 percent of that private-owned company’s total revenues. Similarly, in 2010 Aeroklub earned 33.4 million rsd of which approximately 95 percent came from the budget of the Foreign Ministry. The conclusion is that Aeroklub Company practically existed only to collect the money from everything related to Vuk Jeremic and to the Ministry that he was in charge of.
“Aeroklub” and the Tennis Federation of Serbia signed a 40 million dinars worth contract which was almost identical to the amount that “Aeroklub” received the same year from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Secret relationship between Vuk Jeremic and Aeroklub Company owned by Ivan Novčić (who is believed to be a very close relative of Jeremic’s spouse Natasa) was indicated by the information that was released, referring to research carried out by the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network - BIRN, on this organization’s website Balkaninsight. The text released by this portal says that the FM was not the only institution related to Jeremic that Aeroklub was cooperating with:
“In 2011 this company won a tender – as a sole bidder – for the purchase of plane tickets to meet the demands of the Tennis Federation Serbia (TSS). Considering the value of the business worth 40 million rsd, the fact that only one bidder submitted a bid is rather unusual”, the text states. According to that information, which TSS and Jeremic never denied, in September 2011 Aeroklub and TSS signed a contract worth 40 million rsd (approximately 360,000 euros) and the amount was almost identical to the amount that Aeroklub was paid by the FM the same year.
Though according to the testimony of Slaven Radonjic, the individual in charge of procurements of the Sports Federation, only two companies bought tender documentation for the procurement of plane tickets in 2011, and Aeroklub was the only one that emerged in the very tender.
It happened again in July next year, in 2012, when TSS and Aeroklub made a new contract worth the same amount - 40 million rsd. This tourist agency was once again, one of two companies that bought tender documentation and once again it appeared as the only bidder. Aware of the fact that the deal was fixed, the other company which bought tender documentation, Intertravel Tourist Agency with its head office in Belgrade, eventually failed to submit its offer.
At the time when TSS was purchasing plane tickets via Aeroklub, Vuk Jeremic was the president of that Federation. Though he was appointed to the president of TSS officially in November 2011, he was de facto performing that duty since January of the same year.
The ongoing practice of institutions run by Vuk Jeremic to be the most important business partners to Aeroklub was continued in the case of his non-government organization - the Centre for International Relations and Sustainable Development (CIRSD). According to information provided by Antidot Media Network, in the period from April 1, 2014, to January 20, 2017, the sum of 170,898,000 Serbian dinars equalling the sum of 1,400,000 euros was paid from the account of CIRSD to Aeroklub.
After Jeremic left the position of the FM head, Aeroklub was changing frequently its business addresses, establishing daughter companies, changing their core activities and became the subject of a marriage dissolution lawsuit of its formal owner Ivan Novcic and his spouse. In the same period, one other company entered Jeremic’s financial game – a Belgrade-based tourist agency Arsico LLC to which Aeroklub now makes enormous payments in the amount of 476.8 million rsd (approximately 3.97 million euros). This information itself would not be of any particular importance if Arsico did not record a tenfold increase in its business revenue owing to payments from Aeroklub against the earlier period, indicating apparent attempts to hide traces of the money’s final destination that Jeremic, from all organizations that he was in charge of, was paying onto accounts of Aeroklub. However, government bodies have, for unexplainable reasons, persistently avoided to investigate these irregularities.
On trips around the world, Jeremic spent more than any other foreign minister since 2000
Thirty year-old minister of Serbia’s foreign affairs had a strong need to be recognized in global business and diplomatic circles as a member of the elite and global high society by staying at hotels which are up to five times more expensive than, for example, hotels in which German Chancellor Angela Merkel stays in.
Five-star hotels such as the Hilton or the Sheraton did not suit the Serbian official. His choice were the best-ranked hotel chains such as Four Seasons, Kempinski, Hyatt, Intercontinental. Apart from the fact that arrogance in eating, drinking and sleeping of state officials on account of the taxpayers is considered as inappropriate, in a developed country this would cause a fierce public discussion and most possibly dismissal from that public position. The most recent example from the neighbouring Croatia is proof of this, where a great scandal was made after the public found out that the governor of that country’s central bank Boris Vujacic spent almost 30,000 euros on business trips during the five year term of office - and this is 12 times less than the amount that Vuk Jeremic spent over the same period of time.
Under the cover of the battle for preservation of Serbia’s territorial integrity and the prevention of Kosovo independence recognition, Jeremic was spending on trips on annual basis more than any other foreign minister since 2000. In seven and a half months of his first year on duty, Jeremic spent 84 days traveling which means that he was on a business trip one in three days on average. He continued the same practice in years to come: in 2008 he spent 195 days traveling, in 2009 even 206 days while in 2010 he spent 186 days, and in 2011 he spent exactly 200 days, while in six months of the last year of his term of office, he spent 88 days in “battle for Kosovo”.
He was flying on either Prince Aviation private jets or in business class via the mentioned Aeroklub Company. According to publicly available lists of the Foreign Ministry which recorded all of Jeremic’s trips including the costs of travel, accommodation and minister’s daily allowances, in five years of his term of office, the former foreign minister spent more than 3,330,000 euros on airplane flights while in the same period over 220,000 euros was spent on his stays in elite world hotels.
During his term of office, Vuk Jeremic wanted to create an image of a world diplomat with ties and influence in all areas and it would not have been disputable if he had not used the money of the citizens of Serbia for his personal aspirations and his own complexes. After a detailed analysis of the map of the world and the countries that Jeremic visited, Antidot’s team failed to list many other places that Serbia’s minister failed to visit.
Results of his policy remain questionable as well as the very point of some of those trips. The question arising from this is as follows: How did Jeremic’s exotic trips to the countries which were visited last by Josip Broz Tito when he was establishing the Non-aligned movement, such as Chile, Peru, Bolivia, Ethiopia, Togo, Barbados, El Salvador, Trinidad and Tobago, Philippines, Venezuela, Cuba, Congo and other faraway destinations known for variety of their tourist offer- contribute in particular to the issues of Kosovo and of Serbia’s integration with the EU?
Of course, Vuk Jeremic’s main activities were focused on the United States of America, especially regarding his personal ambition to become the UN Secretary General. When he was a foreign minister, he flew across the Atlantic 64 times at the cost of the citizens of Serbia (even 19 times in 2008). Apart from the fact that he secured his job in New York in 2012 and 2013 through expensive lobbying of the US companies, he also managed to stay with his spouse upon expiry of his position in a luxurious apartment in Manhattan. in New York, where apartment rental prices are ranging between 4,000 and 8,000 US dollars a month on average.
An overnight stay worth couple of thousands of euros and just one flight worth 70,000!
Lists provided by the Foreign Ministry show numerous examples pointing out over and over again to a conclusion that Vuk Jeremic suffers from the absolute absence of ethics as to spending the state’s money in order to achieve the goal of creating an image of a wealthy and influential diplomat among global mighty ones. It is possible to stay in New York, and in the very Manhattan, in a five-star luxurious hotel for the price of USD 200, but Vuk Jeremic insisted, during his visit to the USA in the period 18-21 December 2007, to stay for three nights in the “Royal Room” of The Peninsula chain of luxurious hotels where one staying overnight costs 1,000 dollars!
In the year that followed, in late January 2008, Jeremic paid 1,640 euros for two stays overnight in Amigo Hotel in Brussels, while only one overnight stay in Kempinski Grand Hotel in Geneva cost CHF 1,630 on account of taxpayers of Serbia because he stayed in the Presidential suite which is taken exclusively by multimillionaires, pop stars, CEOs and owners of gigantic corporations.
In order to fulfill his dream entirely, besides the hotels in which sheiks and members of royal dynasties typically stay, Jeremic also spent huge amounts of money on renting private jets. Though in 2009 there were at least twenty travel options for Netherlands- in a business class, Serbian foreign minister travelled from a country with an average salary of 300 euros to Netherlands, on a private plane, for an amazing amount of 29,000 euros. Then, in July 2008 his flight to Iran cost 28,000 euros, while in 2009 he had a series of enormously expensive flights to Egypt (23,000 euros), Syria (34,000), Azerbaijan (23,000), etc. The same year a flight from Belgium to Cyprus cost 26,000 euros. The series continued in 2010 when Jeremic was renting the planes to travel to Ethiopia (27,000), Iraq (30,000), Brazil (21,000), Kazakhstan (26,000) and Luxembourg (20,000).
In 2011 the most expensive trips were those to Ethiopia in the amount of 39,000 euros and to Kazakhstan amounting to 35,000 euros. The same year Jeremic’s one-day visit to Trinidad and Tobago cost the citizens of Serbia 16,000 euros whereas a visit to Lebanon amounted to 22,000 euros. Jeremic hit the record high in spending the state’s money in the last year of his position of the foreign minister, when the citizens of Serbia paid the whopping 70,000 euros for his flight to Ethiopia! Eventually, the private flight Belgium- Switzerland-Latvia cost the amazing 55,000 euros.
These questions have remained: What did the citizens of Serbia get as results of Jeremic’s expensive flights to the farthest destinations on the planet? Why the minister arrogantly spent, on several occasions, 220 average salaries of Serbian citizens on his ONE trip to Ethiopia?! What were the national interests of Serbia in Trinidad and Tobago, islands known for beaches and Margaritas?
Why did the minister spend, on several occasions, 220 average Serbian salaries on his trip to Ethiopia?!
Money to Vuk and Natasa to watch Novak Djokovic’s match
In the period July 2-4, 2011 Jeremic, together with his spouse Natasa, was on a private visit to London at the expense of the state where he was watching tennis finals at Wimbledon and was a guest at a private party arranged by the Serbian tennis player Novak Djokovic. On that occasion Jeremic spent RSD 537,000 from the state budget for a flight and EUR 1,000 for two stays overnight in Hyatt Regency Hotel in London and he did not miss to collect two daily allowances in the amount of 126 pounds that used to be withdrawn via “Tit for tat” private exchange office, as were warned by DRI too.
One million euros for associates
On numerous business trips Jeremic was accompanied by his closest associates on whose special flights and plane tickets RSD 107 million (approximately one million euro) were spent additionally. It is curious however that Jeremic’s advisor Aleksandra Radosavljevic took almost all trips that members of Jeremic’s team took and there is a striking fact that she was the one who was enjoying special privileges compared to other associates of the then minister (business class, special flights, luxurious hotel accommodation). This case would represent a political scandal in developed countries, while in Vuk Jeremic’s case, in addition to his associates, he was often taking journalists and reporters of Fonet Agency with him to his business trips and their travel costs were also covered by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Though Vuk Jeremic’s press service promised Antidot’s team on February 14 that it would supply answers and explanations to everything stated in this article, that promise was not fulfilled by the time it was released.
Case 2: How just one of Jeremic’s contracts caused a 5.2 million euros worth of damages to the state
A contract that Vuk Jeremic signed in 2012 with Energoprojekt Company caused more than 5.2 million euros worth of damages to the state of Serbia. In a series of omissions in the process of assessing the value of the Republic of Serbia’s property, ownership rights to several land-sites and facilities abroad that were the property of the Republic of Serbia were transferred to Energoprojekt Company.
So, opposite to regulations, the value of the embassy’s land in Abuja (Nigeria) and the land and the building in Kampala (Uganda) was assessed on the basis of forced rather than market value, having consequently reduced their price (and caused damage to the state) by more than half a million of euros.
Similar omission that damaged the state happened regarding the assessment of the value of two land-sites and two facilities in Lima (Peru) where only the value of the land was assessed while buildings and facilities on the land were exempt from the assessment. However, that value was presented in the contract as a cumulative value of the land and the buildings causing thus damage to the state that amounted to additional 356,000 euros.
After the repeated evaluation of the mentioned land in 2015, it was concluded that its actual value was 2.5 times higher than the value presented in the agreement, increasing thus the damages inflicted on the state by additional 4.3 million euros and so the total damage inflicted on the state in this deal reached 5.2 million euros.
Illegal seizure of millions worth property of the Republic of Serbia
A contract that the Foreign Minister at the time Vuk Jeremic signed on May 30, 2012, with Energoprojekt Holding, a joint stock company, inflicted the damage worth 5,200,000 euros on the state of Serbia.
According to the findings of the Unit for Internal Audit of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (FM) of 2013, Jeremic made it possible with his signature for Energoprojekt to seize illegally the millions worth property of the Republic of Serbia under the cover of a contruction project for Serbia’s embassy in Abuja, the capital of Nigeria, at unrealistically low prices.
The contract on the transfer of rights to real property entered with the FM under the number 3043-19/16 (the copy which the Media Antidot Network obtained), was signed on behalf of the Ministry by Vuk Jeremic at the very end of his term. On behalf of Energoprojekt Holding and Energoprojekt Visokogradnja, the contract was signed by directors of those companies, Vladimir Milovanovic and Dejan Jovicevic.
This contract stipulated that the price of the construction of Serbia’s embassy in Abuja and the outstanding debt of the state to Energoprojekt for the purchased consulate building in Herceg Novi be settled in such a manner that four building plots abroad with accompanying facilities be transferred to become the property of that building company. Considering the entire debt that was assessed in the contract to have amounted to 3,549,249 euros the state committed to assigning to the Energoprojekt its rights to the following real property:
- - the right to use a part (40 percent) of the building plot in Abuja that Nigerian government allocated to Serbia for the construction of embassy worth EUR 206,712;
- - the right to long-term rent of land and right to property on the facility in Kampala (Uganda) the value of which was assessed at EUR 672,307;
- - the right to property of two plots in Lima (Peru) of 24.17 area totaling in size together with two residential facilities built on those plots totaling 1,540 square meters in size. The total value of plots and facilities in Lima in the contract was assessed at EUR 2,670,230.
Profitable fraud by reducing land value
Though the two contracting parties in this agreement have agreed on the equal value of mutual giving, an inspection carried out in 2013 by a Group for Internal Audit of the FM concluded that there was a massive fraud worth several millions of euros hiding behind fixed figures. Having concluded that there was a series of omissions and illegal decisions of the then Foreign Minister Vuk Jeremic which resulted in the infliction of a serious damages on the property of the Republic of Serbia, auditors recommended the Government and the FM to initiate a proceeding for termination or at least the change of this harmful contract.
Inspection concluded that the value of all estates that the state gave to Energoprojekt in the contract was purposefully underestimated. Hence, for example, the value of a part of land-site in Abuja that was assigned to Energoprojekt was reduced by 30% of its value (EUR 90,000). It was done by entering in the contract it's forced value which amounts to only 70% of the market value of the mentioned plot. Following the same pattern, the value of the plot in Kampala was also reduced in the contract by 39%, having thus inflicted the damage on the state by additional EUR 423,000.
Property assessment excluding buildings
The case of the land-sites and buildings in Lima, has shown that the drastic decrease of state property values from the contract that Jeremic signed, was not a product of random omission. While estimating the value of the property, Jeremic ordered the estimators to calculate only the value of the building site, without the value of the embassy and residence buildings that were a located on the land-sites. The value of the clear building site was shown as total value of the site, which actually had buildings on it. Therefore the Republic of Serbia was damaged for the value of the buildings in the amount of 356.000 euros. In other words, according to the contract between Jeremic and “Energoprojekt”, the embassy and residence buildings in Lima had no value whatsoever.
In addition to the decreased value of state property, Jeremic also agreed on an additional 5% decrease on the account of “Energoproject”’s commission by signing the contract, which caused an illegal state property decrease by another 175.000 euros, and thus, also, breaking the Law on Public property.
Rigged evaluation causes the country to lose 5.2 million dollars
However, sheer shock took place on the 7th of August 2015 when the International Court of justice had artificers deliver a new estimation of the actual value of the land-sites and buildings, which showed that their real market value was in the amount of 8.800.000 dollars which was almost two and a half times more than the value found in the contract made with “Energoprojekt” (3.6 million dollars). According to this research, just on the simple false property value evaluation in Lima, the country technically lost 5.200.000 dollars.
Confronted with Group of Internal Auditing´s research, while simultaneously trying to reach an agreement on removing the contracts shortcomings, the authorities from the ICJ (International Court of Justice) have been initiating a series of unsuccessful meetings throughout 2015 with the representatives from “Energoprojekt”. Due to the absence of the agreement, the ICJ (International Court of Justice) has refused to take over the embassy building in Abuja, which forced them to renew the existing lease contract within the period of a year (by September 30th, 2016) in the capital of Nigeria, for the purposes of the lodging of the staff of a diplomatic-consular mission, which cost the country another 106.000 Euros. Due to the fact that the solution for the harmful contract hasn’t been found yet, an additional amount of over 100.000 euros is to be added to the period after Set 30th 2016,
The Government’s Forged conclusion as coverage
During the mentioned correspondence and according to the ICJ reports to the Government of Serbia, between January 18th and August 8th, 2016, the representatives of “Energoprojekt” claimed that the contract is legally valid and that it underwent, in 2012, all necessary procedures before the Government of Serbia. That argument referred to the formal-legal regularity of the contract based on the Conclusion of the Government No. 05 464-3469/2012, allegedly conveyed during the telephone session in Mirko Cvetkovic’s cabinet on May 24th, 2012. The problem with the mentioned conclusion however, lies in the fact that the famous Jeremic conclusion hasn’t been mentioned in the report of the 663rd session held on May 24th, 2012, even though published on the official website of the Government of Serbia, during which two of the law propositions were adopted along with six regulations. According to the findings of the Antidot media network, the document that contained Mirko Cvetkovic’s and Secretary-General Tamara Stojicevic’s signatures was composed only afterward, without Ministers of the Government of Serbia discussing it first, which severely jeopardized the legality of the cabinet’s decision procedure. With that document, which members of the Government hadn’t voted on nor discussed, Vuk Jeremic has tried to protect himself from the responsibility of damaging the country, whose interests he was constitutionally and legally obliged to protect.
Representatives of “Energoprojekt”, while trying to defend this project that is clearly very damaging to the countries interests, keeping in mind the “World Economic Crisis”, have pointed out within the negotiations that the new property value estimation in Lima was “illogical”. Simultaneously, they reported, that from their company’s point of view, in a business sense, the litigious buildings in Lima had no value whatsoever, considering the fact there were business plans for them to be demolished in order to build new buildings on that location.
Answering Antidot’s questions, a few authorized construction site estimators have confirmed that plots purchaser’s intentions in relation to the existing facilities have no influence on market value estimation of the facilities mentioned above. “In the initial phase of negotiations regarding the purchasing of a building site, the forthcoming investor calculates the value of the existing facilities which are located on the said site and which he plans to demolish, as a regular part of the expenses of buying the land itself”. That is also confirmed by the widespread regular practice which investors apply at both domestic and foreign markets, and that offers the owners of old facilities meant for demolition compensations either financially, or in the form of a new residential or business facilities in the newly built structures”, one of our correspondents stated.
The claims of the directors’ of “Energoprojekt” are in contradiction to the public information about real-estate market conditions in Lima which indicate that, because of the great demand, that market has been in constant expansion even in spite of the greatest crisis in 2009. Specialized websites which deal with sales of construction sites and facilities, estimate the zone where Jeremic purchased allotments, to be worth 3.400 dollars per square meter for the first, and 2.900 dollars for the second purchase assigned to “Energoprojekt”. According to those prices, the worth of the two plots which belong to the Republic of Serbia, are in the amount of at least 7.800.000 dollars, which is slightly less than what the International Court of Justice reported, but still almost twice more than the amount specified in the contract signed by Jeremic.
During the negotiations, the directors of the “Energoprojekt” have indirectly confessed that the Republic of Serbia’s given benefits have been underestimated, when, as an argument, they mentioned a claim towards the country in the amount of 672 thousand euros, which it has, with a special Settlement Agreement dating the 26th of May, 2001, that same company written off. However, this write-off was a voluntary gesture of a company that regularly does business with the state and from these activities, makes huge profits and in which the state has a 33% ownership, and in no way could it be compensated for a robbery conducted by the contract of 30 May 2012 signed by Vuk Jeremic.
Questions without answers
It is an astonishing fact that after the findings of the auditors in 2013, The International Court of Justice referred the disputable contract to the Public Attorney only with the goal to estimate the possible legal actions the Government could use to abolish this destructive business, but not to the Public Prosecutor in order to launch an investigation or to determine the possible criminal responsibility of the parties involved in this case.
The possibilities of a potential criminal investigation of Vuk Jeremic as the initiator and signatory of the contract have decreased after the declaration of his candidacy for the presidency of the Republic of Serbia, which gave him a kind of protection against legal prosecution. Endeavoring to position himself in the cabinet on Andric venac, Jeremic strives to secure immunity and strives towards the possibility and idea of him being held responsible for a business that damaged Serbia to the sum of 5,2 million euro to simply turn obsolete and to fade.
Despite multiple attempts of the Antidot editorial staff, via official e-mail addresses of Vuk Jeremic and the administration of Energoprojekt to get some answers on questions regarding disputed parts of the Contract, they completely failed to answer. Exactly as in the case of expenses of Jeremic’s travels and connections with the “Aeroklub” Agency; on the 14th February we got a promise from the Press team of Vuk Jeremic that they would provide us with the requested answers, but during the time of the writing of this article, they have not answered.
Referencing the Law on Access to Information of Public Importance, the editorial staff of Antidot addressed an official request to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to deliver copies of the findings made by the Group for Internal Auditing 2013, as well as repeated estimations of the land value in Lima from 2015. Antidot also requested copies of official reports and notes from meetings being held during 2015, related to disputed contract between representatives of MFA and the leaders of Energoprojekt. We also requested from the Serbian Government the record from the disputed 663rd session of that body held on 24.05.2012.
Case 3: John Podesta returns the advance payment given to him by assisting the Campaign of Vuk Jeremic?
What is hidden in the Contracts of MFA No. Gs1148 and Gs 411305, marked as top secret?
During the time Boris Tadic had the Government under his control, Serbia paid 2.370.000 USD to various consulting companies from the USA, for the services of providing vague and to the public completely unknown services of lobbying, without achieved results for anybody, except for, as it later turned out, Vuk Jeremic personally. According to the contracts accessed by editorial staff of Media network Antidot, money was paid to the “30 Point Strategies” and “Podesta Group” Companies, pointing that the only job of those companies was a personal promotion of Boris Tadic and his closest collaborator Vuk Jeremic to the American public and to various American establishments.
The first of the 2 top-secret documents was a Contract registered under the number GS 1148, signed on 22.04.2008 with the “30 Point Strategies” on behalf of MFA by General Secretary Mirko Stefanovic. According to that Contract, during 2011, 2012 and 2013, the Embassy of Serbia in Washington had paid in total 1.469.680 American dollars for unspecified consultant – lobbying services that, pursuant to contractual provisions, mainly added up to promotion of the then Minister of Foreign Affairs Vuk Jeremic and to a lesser extent, Boris Tadic, in American media.
According to this Contract provisions, expressed in 2 separate sections, American consultant company should have provided the Serbian MFA special media training and assistance in the media content placement to the American public, about topics related to Serbia. According to the adopted media strategy, the goal of this arrangement was to change an existing negative image in the American public about Serbia, in the way of having better contacts between Serbian leaders and media establishments in the USA. Those connections later would become the basis for creating a foundation for Serbia, as a country led by “west-oriented democratic politicians” who, despite the nationalist rhetoric at home, have no ideological or political contact points with the previous governments, responsible for a negative image of Serbia in the West.
Enormous sums for "much ado about nothing"
This more than superficially outlined strategy, included the publishing of, primarily, Jeremic’s original texts in American print media, as well as his more prevalent appearances and live streaming in news programmes, relating to topics of interest to Western Balkans. What is particularly unusual about the contract with 30 Point Strategies, is an extreme lacking of the the standard practice of precisely stating all services individually, including a number of articles, broadcasts, interviews, public appearances, statements, followed by precisely stated methodology, timeframes, and schedules, as well as individually – goals, assets and results mapped out. All this makes contracts on lobbying very complex and extensive documents, usually with more than 100 pages of the text, with detailed elaborations and specifications of all services provided to the contracting authority.
In the case of the contracts Serbia signed with American consultant companies, those documents were very briefly drawn on 4-5 pages; in one of those documents, on just half of a page, there was only the list of American media companies: CNN, Blumberg, Wall Street Journal, Financial Times, NY Times, Washington Post, Fox, LA Times, Washington Times etc. And this is practically the end of the contract. Even the Government itself has no insight into any of the activities planned, their amount, individual price, nor any method that could evaluate the specified results.
For example, a citizen seeing Vuk Jeremic in American media doesn’t know if he has paid 800 or 800.000 USD for that appearance.
No single report on results achieved has ever been delivered to the Serbian Government
Specific goals which the American partner should have been especially focused on and which are listed in the second Chapter of the Contract (Exhibit B: Provide Strategic Communications Support for MFA Serbia) testify that, under the mask of Serbia’s image improvement in the USA were hidden only personal promotions of crucial people of the ruling elite in Serbia at the time:
- An effective representation of the Serbian leadership in national and international media with their headquarters in the USA, with a special focus on their presentation to journalists and editors of TV, national radio and press;
- Presenting and preparing Serbian leaders for addressing the members of the diplomatic community, interviews with journalists and responses to challenges in the shape of sensitive issues, directed from the decision makers and creators of public opinion;
- Serbian leaders media visibility increasing, with some help in the determination of specific topics and placement of their opinions in American national publications (daily newspapers and magazines).
Without listing specific services and their prices , Serbia pledged itself with this Contract monthly to pay EUR 42.000 to the “30 Point Strategies”, with an obligation of the American partner to provide “measurability and clarity of realizing their given goals” trough monthly monitoring of their realization; Serbian Government has never received any reports on any achieved goals!
And, while it remains completely unclear how the realization of this Contract contributed to the improvement of Serbia's interests , the public have clearly seen occasional affirmative articles from the West, such the one on Jeremic’s “diplomacy on steroids”, his own text for Wall Street Journal published in July 2010 or his guest appearance on CNN 8 in August of the same year, on the TV show of Fareed Zakaria.
While Jeremic slashed his path towards the UN high position, it is very interesting that exactly the Wall Street Journal itself had, in 2016 , openly supported the election of Vuk Jeremic for the UN General Secretary, which was a visible result of the collaboration with the 30 Point Strategies Company, but only in the personal interest of Jeremic himself. What is very strange in all this business is the note from the Serbian Government General Secretary dated on 22.11.2016 stating that Embassy in Washington had performed its payments to the 30 Point Strategies in the total amount of almost 1,5 million dollars, starting from 2011. That information doesn’t make it clear if those payments had started even before 2011 taking into consideration that the Contract was signed and came into force in 2008. Due to the absence of desired results for the Republic of Serbia interests, this Contract was terminated on 25.01.2013. The 30 Point Strategies Company’s representatives who signed this Contract with Serbia were Noam Noiser, a media adviser, and speechwriter of the ex-president George Bush’s and Adam Levy, award-winning financial journalist and ex-analyst from Wall Street.
100.000 euro per month from the state budget for the friendship with Tony Podesta
Searching for some consultant company with strong connections at the top of the Obama administration which could have provided a stronger lobby for Jeremic’s candidacy for the position of the UN General Secretary, the Serbian Government at the time made a secret contract with another lobbying company “Podesta Group”. Based on previously rendered secret Conclusion of the Government Str. Pov. No. 00-241/2011, on 05.08.2011 the Contract was signed by Vuk Jeremic, on behalf of MFA. According to stated Contract, Serbian Embassy in Washington paid USD 900.000 to American Consultant Company. This Contract was officially terminated on 01.03.2012.
The secret Contract, signed by Vuk Jeremic and Tony Podesta, envisaged that, for an amount of USD 100.000 monthly (!?), “Podesta Group” provides to the Republic of Serbia unspecified services of consultancy (lobbying) directed to official Belgrade “strategic interest's” realization, which were mirrored in “improvement of political and economic relations with the USA” i.e. “ improvement of diplomatic relationships and investments and trade increasing” between those 2 countries. Podesta committed himself to undertake all necessary activities for the purpose of “ preventing the action of any third persons that may damage the reputation and interests of the Republic of Serbia”.
Except in only a few vaguely, superficially, defined goals, in the Contract itself, there is not one single specific job, project or service that American company ought to have provided to the Republic of Serbia. According to the Contract, “Podesta Group” was obliged on a regular basis to deliver to the RS Government written monthly reports on the undertaken activities for the purpose of realizing the defined goals. However, according to the sources from the Government itself (one pro-Governmental Belgrade tabloid also referred to as well, on 17.01.2016), not even one single report of Podesta Group was found in that Institution's archive.
The Government’s conclusion “disappeared” from the archives?
In this case it is especially interesting that the Serbian Government at the time took extreme care for this Contract to remain in total secrecy; however, so strictly confidential was this whole affair that the Conclusion of the Government based on which this Contract was made, somehow disappeared from the Government’s archives; with a special contractual provision, the parties agreed on secrecy even after this Contract stop being valid. The same is found in the case of the dubious Contract with Energoprojekt, in the case of the Government’s conclusion on entering this Contract with Podesta, allegedly rendered at 487th Government’s Session, dated the 04th August 2011., according to an official report from the session, the members of the cabinet spoke and gave statements only on one regulation, while the conclusion wasn’t mentioned anywhere. It is suspicious that in this case too had been applied the procedure of forging the Government’s conclusion, not in accordance with the usual regular legal procedure of giving conclusions.
The Podesta-Miskovic-Jeremic triangle
Following the trace of the Contract made between Serbia and Podesta at the beginning of 2016, one Belgrade pro-government tabloid also wrote about it.
Referring to the internal investigation results found in the Serbian Government, that daily newspaper published data that the tycoon Miroslav Miskovic was the one who suggested that the Contract be made between Serbia and Podesta, as well as it is quite possible that, within the job paid by the state to American consulting company, only the lobbying services for the Delta Holding Company were performed.
Referring to the two ministers from Mirko Cvetkovic’s Government, the mentioned tabloid stated that no executive body had even discussed that Contract. “The decision on entering this Contract and later the Contract itself were given to us as a finished thing. We were told everything had been decided in the Boris Tadic’s cabinet and it has to be paid because lobbying in the USA is paid by all serious countries” said one of collaborators, stating that’s not a secret that Miskovic recommended the Contract with Podesta, as it was done at the end: “ That was known to all in then Government! Podesta was brought to us by Miskovic and they, as to my knowledge, had helped him before to be taken down from the American black list”.
In the same text, an unnamed collaborator of Vuk Jeremic said that engaging Podesta was a decision of the Government. “The Government also ordered everything to be kept as a top secret. As the then Minister of Foreign Affairs, Jeremic signed it because only MFA may, on behalf of the state, conclude contracts with foreign countries or companies. We have never heard Miskovic had any connections with that” – stated Jeremic’s collaborator in his interview for the Belgrade tabloid.
The general public heard of Podesta in the middle of 2013, when the information was published that Miroslav Miskovic had hired that lobbying company to represent his interests and rights which were allegedly being injured while being in prison; also the public heard of him at the trial for the road companies robbery. Later actions done by Miskovic’s lobbyists showed that the only real goal was to introduce their taskmaster in the official institutions of the USA as a victim of political persecution in Serbia.
Delta Holding announced then, they had engaged Podesta Group acting as an advisor for corporate communications. So, the Podesta Group has found itself, in just one year, in the position to lobby against its recent client, which the lobbying industry considers as a serious violation and a conflict of interest.
On the other side, Vuk Jeremic was again brought into connection with Podesta in WikiLeaks documents. Within the so-called Podesta e-mails, WikiLeaks published a request sent on 07.April 2015 by Tom Daschle (Executive Director of The Daschle Group lobbying company) to John Podesta (former chief of Bil Clinton’s cabinet and later the chief of Hilary Clinton’s election headquarters) and his collaborator Neera Tanden. In that e-mail, upon request of Vuk Jeremic, Daschle urged at Podesta’s and Tanden’s office to have a meeting with the ex-Minister of Foreign Affairs of Serbia; they accepted that invitation in their e-mail response. In this correspondence, Jeremic, among other things, wanted to introduce himself to Hilary Clinton as a “fighter against Milosevic’s regime and as someone who had taken a part in the protests” – regardless of the fact that he hadn’t even been in Serbia at that time, nor he was a part of civil resistance; he was a young member of the SPS party.
A million dollar lobbying contract was directed to Vuk Jeremic’s support for his candidacy in the UN
According to the timeframe when this meeting was initiated, it is clear it was just an attempt of Vuk Jeremic to get Obama’s administration support via Podesta for his UN General Secretary candidacy. It points that lobbying 2011/2012 had also been directed to removing any stronger resistance of official Washington to the then Jeremic’s candidacy for the chairman in General Assembly of the UN. Asked by Antidot on the reasons he had requested the meeting with John Podesta in 2015 and possible collaborations achieved at the meeting, Jeremic didn’t answer.
Like Vuk Jeremic and his electoral cabinet, the answers to the questions on the nature of their business with the Serbian Government, the 30 Point Strategies, and Podesta Group companies have never been delivered.
When the Government in Serbia was changed in 2012, the practice of making contracts with the lobbyists from abroad was terminated.
Both politically and financially, Jeremic is the only one who profited
Despite the millions of dollars taken from the state budget, Serbia didn’t have any visible benefit from the business with the American lobby companies. The US investment level at the time didn't really show any progress, the biggest American investor US Steel left the Serbian market, trade exchange scope mostly stagnated, while regional relationships were loaded with the conflicting politics of official Belgrade permanently refusing to start a serious dialog with Pristina’s institutions. At the same time, upon leaving position of the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Jeremic managed to secure the UN General Secretary chairman’s armchair, achieved the second best result in the race for the place of UN GS and he established the Center for International Collaboration and Sustainable Development (Centar za medjunarodnu saradnju i odrzivi razvoj- CIRSD), transnational NGO, with its headquarters in Belgrade; according to the scope of financial assets, this is one of the most powerful organizations of its kind in this part of the world.
Who is financing CIRSD and Jeremic´s campaign?
According to data of the Tax Administration, between 2013-2017, over 1.3 million dollars were paid into the bank account of the business entity “Vuk Jeremic PR Agencija za Konsalting” from Belgrade. According to the same source, that money was paid by the “China Energy Fund Committee” Foundation from Hong Kong. The same Foundation donated to the CIRSD 1 million dollars and the biggest donations to this Agency whose founder was Jeremic, came also from Hong Kong, by the “State Energy HK Limited” – 3.000.000 dollars and from Qatar – 320.000 euro.
Despite a very aggressive and expensive presidential campaign that had been initiated several months before the elections were officially declared, up until today Jeremic hasn’t disclosed to the public the origin of that money; the money he uses for financing his newest political ambitions.
Not a single answer from Jeremic and his network of associates
Taking into consideration that Vuk Jeremic on the social network Twitter, for days has been provoking his counter candidates because they refuse to give answers to the questions being of crucial public interest, it is interesting to underline that, during the several months of analysis and trying to get in touch with many different interviewees and actors of this event – the Antidot team hasn’t got any answer, both from Vuk Jeremic and his Press service and from all mentioned companies and individuals in the file.
Namely, the Antidot team has tried to reach Vuk Jeremic on numerous occassions in order to get his explanation in relation to all the facts stated in this text. Vuk Jeremic has been contacted via e-mail several times, SMS messages have been sent to his American and Serbian phones, with a request to answer the questions of the Antidot team. Also, no success has been made in our attempts to get the answers over Jeremic’s official press service or via some of the collaborators, authorized for communication with media. Except for the usual promises of “somebody will contact you soon” until now no concrete answers.
The same happened when companies and collaborators who with Jeremic concluded illegal business are in charge. “Podesta Group” has been contacted by us via official letter and request via e-mail sent several times to the press service addresses and address of John Podesta in person. Several times the secretary answered the phone, noticing our messages – but all has remained just on that. The same has happened with the 30 Point Strategies Company. On our many e-mails sent, our callings and conversations with the administration, we have got only promises the answer would be delivered to us. Until today, not a single answer has arrived.
The “Aeroklub” tourist agency, collecting millions of dollars in profits from collaboration with MFA led by Vuk Jeremic in that period of time, doesn’t exist today. Due to frequent changes of activities in APR (Agency for Business Registers) it is not possible to reach any former director/employee in that company. Our attempts to contact “Energoprojekt” Company whose director still is Vladimir Milovanovic, also have no results. In MFA, Serbian Government and Agency for Fight Against Corruption we spoke with very polite contact persons who listened to our questions, but with a certain caution, they didn’t want to confirm nor deny the authenticity of documents accessed by our editorial staff.
The Antidot team is continuing to work on Vuk Jeremic’s dossier.
The questions which Vuk Jeremic hasn’t answered:
- As a signatory of the Contract on Transfer the Rights on Immovable Property (No 3043-19) with “Energoprojekt”, dated on 30.05.2012, did you in the moment of signing know that, doing so, you are serious damage to the state of Serbia, amounting to 5,3 million euro?
- Who gave an order for the relevant evaluating companies to perform the only estimation of the land with no objects in Lima and who lately decided falsely to show that evaluation in the Contract, as a unified estimation of the land and objects on that land?
- How is it possible that the Government Conclusion No. 464-3469/2012, being mentioned as a base of the Contract, wasn’t on the agenda at the session held on 24.05.2012?; even it is not mentioned in the report on the Government’s website on decisions brought at the session held that day?
- What kind of personal and business relationships do you have with “Energoprojekt” director Vladimir Milovanovic? Since when have you known each other?
- Few days after the mentioned Contract was signed, within your South-American tour (01-06.06.2012), you visited Peru. Who did you meet there within your visit to that country? Did you have a talk with anybody in Peru about land lots being the subject of the mentioned Contract, their transfer to the new owner and issuing permissions needed for the “Energoprojekt” for the works foreseen on those lots?
- You also signed the Contract with the American company “Podesta Group” in 2011. According to that Contract, 900.000 American dollars have been paid into Podesta´s account. What lobbying jobs has that company provided that served Serbia´s interests?
- Was Podesta included in any form into lobbying for your election on the place of the chairman in General Assemble of UN in 2013?
- According to one of Podesta’s e-mails published on WikiLeaks, you tried to meet John Podesta in 2015. Has that meeting ever happened and what was the motive for that meeting?
- Have you ever lately had any collaboration with Podesta? Did that company provide you its lobbying services in your candidacy for the UN GA in 2016?
- Regarding the costs of your travels 2007-2012, the plane tickets for commercial flights were mostly bought over the “Aeroklub” Company. According to what criterion and in what procedure did you chose that company for exclusive collaboration with the institution you led?
- The same company, in the same role, appeared in the case of Tennis Federation of Serbia in the period of time when you were the president of that Federation. Can you explain the nature of your relationships with the Company owner and how did it happen that the biggest part of its jobs was directly connected to institutions you were the leader in?
- During your function of Minister of Foreign Affairs, on 12.07.2011 you visited Trinidad and Tobago. Your flight in rented plane “Prince aviation” cost RSD 1.629.450 or EUR 16.000. What political or economic reasons and results of that visit can justify this cost?
- Also, at the state’s expense you visited London privately 02.07.-04.072011, when you attended the final match of Wimbledon tennis tournament and, later, to private celebration of Novak Djokovic. Flight to London cost RSD 537.400, your stay in Hayat Regency London GBP 613, while on behalf of your wages you took GPB 126. Acting like this, did you in private purposes misuse your function and the state’s resources being available to you in that moment?
- What is the background of your relationships with Damir Fazlic? Since when have you known each other, have you had any mutual business and do you have it right now? Which business exactly?
- Did you provide Fazlic and Milan Hasecic to attend Boris Tadic’s inauguration in 2004?
- What is the background of your relationships with Hasecic and since when have you known each other?What business have you had with him or you have now?
- Are you familiar with Hasecic’s role in overtaking “Knjaz Milos” Company’s shares and privatization of some other companies in Serbia? Have you, in any shape, been involved in any of those jobs?
- Are you familiar with the reasons of Hasecic’s sudden leaving Serbia, in the middle of his important jobs?
- In the Ljubica Gojgic’s TV show “Pravi ugao” (Right Corner) broadcasted on RTV 1, on 29.12.2016, you said that CIRSD got financial assets exclusively from the companies that hadn’t and haven’t any business interest in Serbia. According to the data we accessed to, at least in 2 cases the private Chinese companies publicly stated their intention and interest to take a part in the privatization of the rest of profitable state companies in Serbia. Why did you mislead the public on this occasion, speaking about the funding sources of your organization and you in person?
- What were the motives those companies have financially to support your organization and you in person? Have you lobbied for the benefit of those companies, in any way?
- In the same TV show, you said that all financiers of CIRSD are reputable international companies. In most cases, except brief data on registration, by official data searching it is not possible to find out what is the business of those companies, which points that we speak about fictitious companies. Can you tell us what is the business and at what markets can we find the following companies-donors of the CIRSD: “Horizon Companies Est Admin”, “Brownstones Investment”, “Estix Technology Corporation” and “Smart Engineering Ltd”?
- What is the background of your relationships with Milos Relic, donor of CIRSD and member of the board of directors of the Serbian Tennis Federation in the time when you were the head of that Federation?
Can you tell us the details of the car accident in which your father Mihajlo was involved and what happened before your family moved to London? Has he ever been charged for consequences and what was the judgment?