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February 28, 1998
. Vreme News Digest Agency No 334
Taking A Left Turn To Prison

On Both Sides Of The Law

by Zoran B. Nikolic

The police searched Mr. Djordjevic and his vehicle before taking him away in front of his party comrades. He had returned from a visit to Montenegro the day before. The Belgrade daily Nasa Borba quotes "reliable sources" as saying that someone had warned Djordjevic he would be arrested if he turned up for the session. Djordjevic, on the other hand, didn't need to be psychic to know what was coming. On the day of his arrest, the daily Politika Ekspres published a story on alleged cash fraud in the Health Insurance Fund at the time when Djordjevic was the institution's managing director. According to the Belgrade daily, Djordjevic put about 1.8 million German marks into his pocket while importing 600 ambulance vehicles for the city's hospitals. However, neither police nor the prosecution had anything to say while Djordjevic was being kept in custody. His JUL comrades turned their backs on him faster than he was taken downtown for questioning, having said that "being a JUL member does not entitle anyone to break the law". Qfter being heard by the prosecuting judge and tuis a game involving three parties or more. The first (let's suppose it's the Fund) owes money to another (a major pharmacy for instance), but the debt is proceeded to a third party (a major medicaments importer) because there is not enough cash to pay it. It is up to the parties involved to estimate the value of all debts, and their representatives also make it a habit of claiming their own cuts in the deal. How does this work? The money is taken off one firm's account but never reaches the account of another. It ends up on a fourth account, where it can be turned into cash with good connections. This way, it is also possible to "borrow" money from your own firm and pocket the interest. All this was a subject of many rumors while Djordjevic was still in charge of the Fund. On February 12th, the managing director of the Srbolek"enterprise, Borivoje Lavica, and the firm's deputy financial manager Slobodan Grahovac were detained for questioning. Rumors have it that Nenad Djordjevic was detained and questioned along with them. Anyone looking for a third party in the affair should best refer to the words spoken by Leposava Milicevic when reporters asked her last summer why low quality medicines from Indonesia and India were being imported. She said she never knew we imported medicines, and told reporters that Djordjevic and Dibek were the only people who knew what was going on.

It is apparent that the authorities had every reason to investigate Djordjevic's activities as the Fund's managing director. What's more, the reasons have been common knowledge for quite some time. There were a lot of fishy details about Djordjevic's BTC enterprise. In 1993 and 1994, the enterprise illegally merged with a major furniture producer, Zvezda of Velika Plana. The merge was off after a strike staged by Zvezda's employees, but the indictment charging Djordjevic with cash fraud was gone without trace. At that time, Djordjevic was seen in Velika Plana with Ratko Markovic and Andreja Milosavljevic, a prominent JUL member and a minister with various assignments in Serbian premier Mirko Marjanovic's government.

Meanwhile, the JUL health committee - a body rallying all the doctors in the party - developed a grudge against Djordjevic. Instead of reinforcing the Fund's resources by limiting the expenditures of non-JUL hospitals only, Djordjevic thought he could get away with applying restrictive measures to everybody. He made enemies with Nikola Mitrovic, the managing director of the Institute for oncology and radiology and a JUL vice president himself, when he sent him two tons of potatoes instead of cash. The latter returned the vegetables to the sender with some indignation. He also made enemies with the Fund's major debtors, for he treated them in much the same manner. The Srbijasume enterprise was one of the Fund's biggest debtors, but its managing director, Milan Rodic, was also a prominent JUL member. All in all, Djordjevic made a whole lot of enemies accusing him of implementing a number of unacceptable measures only to fill his own pockets.

He became unpopular with his party comrades too. Back in 1994, he had a falling out with his partners running the Komet enterprise. Djordjevic's BTC enterprise and the Komet had a row over the joint company's founding capital and took the matter to court. Djordjevic wanted the BTC to take over as the leading JUL enterprise,0while the Komet was an enterprise more than close to the recently assassinated JUL shark Zoran Todorovic "Kundak". Todorovic's name is once again being mentioned in JUL circles, more frequently and with a heavier meaning than ever before.

The most popular theory of the moment is that Djordjevic went down because his ties with Montenegro became too close for someone's liking. Rumors have it that he transferred much of his capital to the southern Yugoslav Republic. Djordjevic built a hotel in Montenegro's most popular holiday resort, Budva, and invested a lot of money in the republic's Adriatic coast. The investments of other JUL members were vouched for by the then president of the Budva municipality, Zarko Mikovic, also a member of Momir Bulatovic's faction of the DPS, and his sound relations with Milija Zecevic, the manager of Belgrade's International Management Faculty. The faculty's sociology professor was none other than Mira Markovic, and one of her most prominent students was Marko Milosevic himself. Trouble appeared when Mikovic was sacked late last year, so Zecevic could no longer vouch for the investments placed by Djordjevic's party comrades. Djordjevic himself bought a section of Yugoslavia's largest island, Sveti Nikola, while Mikovic was still in power. The purchase was made in July 1997, but it became a feast for the press once Mikovic was sacked.

The change of authorities in Budva and a number of other developments prompted Djordjevic to protect his property by himself. He had a falling out with Milija Zecevic's brother Miodrag, then the chairman of the French-Yugoslav bank in Paris. Miodrag Zecevic was sacked when his mentors refused to sign the 1996 final account, having spotted outrageous traveling expenses and even more outrageous interest Zecevic was making from allowing credits to Yugoslav enterprises. Two incriminating credits were given to the Cyprus-based Amelija enterprise, owned by Nenad Djordjevic.

According to the daily Nasa Borba's sources in France, the two gentlemen also had a row over some money that eventually ended up in a Swiss bank.

Some newspapers claim that Djordjevic is also a joint owner of a Swiss bank. If that is true, there's no telling how many people in power deposited money they had been saving for a rainy day in that same bank. It is more than obvious who is after Djordjevic, but it remains unclear who managed to get him out of jail, at least for a few hours. Even if he had managed to cut some kind of a deal with Montenegro's new authorities, it is hard to believe that the small and distant republic could make any demands on the public prosecutor's office in Belgrade. Many observers say his temporary release was the work of the security service. It is no secret that relations between JUL and the security service have never been worse, while Djordjevic's ties with his old mates are, according to some sources, still very much alive.

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