Serbia's richest man faces police questions over business deals

BELGRADE Thu Nov 29, 2012 5:20pm EST

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BELGRADE (Reuters) - Serbia's richest man, Miroslav Miskovic, will appear for police questioning over his business activities, his Delta Holding said on Thursday, weeks after the deputy prime minister vowed to investigate corruption allegations against Delta affiliates.

Last month, Aleksandar Vucic, Serbia's deputy prime minister and defense minister, accused Miskovic of plotting to remove him from office and topple the ruling nationalist Serbian Progressive Party because of its efforts to fight corruption.

"A long and exhaustive probe into Delta Holding business has been undertaken, during which the company has answered all inquiries," the retail, agribusiness and real estate company said in a statement.

"Miroslav Miskovic will respond to the summons in line with his civic duty and appear for questioning," it said, adding questioning would take place on Monday.

Earlier this month, Delta Holding, one of Serbia's biggest companies, said in a statement: "We are stressing that so far Delta has never had any irregularities in its businesses, both in domestic and foreign markets."

Since it came to power in July, the Nationalist-Socialist government has pledged to root-out organized crime and corruption, a key condition for Serbia's bid to join the European Union.

In an address to parliament on Thursday, Vucic said the government was drawing up a law to establish the origins of the wealth of Serbia's richest citizens, as part of its anti-corruption drive.

"The first drafts of the strategy are completed and the draft law of the origins of property should be debated by end January or in early February at the latest," he said.

Serbian authorities were investigating 24 privatization deals completed after former strongman Slobodan Milosevic was ousted in 2000, Vucic said.

In recent months, police have arrested more than a dozen prominent businessmen, including two ex-ministers from the former ruling Democratic Party, who have been charged with corruption, fraud and abuse of office.

(Reporting by Aleksandar Vasovic; Editing by Sophie Hares)

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