North Macedonian ex-PM Gruevski charged with illegal real estate purchases


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Former Macedonian Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski. File photo: EPA-EFE-Nake Batev

North Macedonia’s organized crime prosecution on Wednesday filed charges against the country’s fugitive ex-prime minister Nikola Gruevski and some of his former close associates in a high-profile case related to the illicit purchase of construction sites .

The charges center on the alleged purchase and concealment of beneficial ownership of three valuable building plots in the elite Skopje suburb of Vodno, another construction site and two apartments. The charges also relate to two building plots in the town of Krushevo.

The prosecution requested the seizure of the real estate in question, the total value of which is estimated at 1.5 million euros.

Gruevski is the first accused in a case involving six people. He is accused of money laundering and illegal acquisition of property, as well as concealing that he was the real owner.

His witness, Risto Novacevski, as well as businessmen Nenad Josifovic, Orce Kamcev and Kamcev’s mother, Ratka Kamceva, are accused of money laundering; Gruevski’s cousin, former head of the secret police Saso Mijalkov, is accused of aiding in money laundering.

According to the charges, Gruevski used money from donations made to the then ruling party, VMRO DPMNE, which he later led, to purchase the properties, using an offshore company registered in Belize.

Gruevski would have obtained some 1.3 million euros between 2006 and 2012 which he would have used to buy the attractive sites.

The prosecution claims that after Gruevski learned in mid-2012 that an 11,000 square meter plot was for sale in Vodno, he asked his cousin, Mijalkov, to help him buy it, and also concealed that he was the real owner. Mijalkov, then head of the secret police, then included Nenad Josifovic in the scheme.

“Defendant SM contacted defendant NJ, who owned an offshore company already registered in Belize, and agreed that this company would be the founder of a national legal entity that would be used to purchase the land. Although he knew that his legal entity would be used to cover the real owner of the land purchaser, the accused NJ, in agreement with the accused SM, established a legal entity in Skopje ”, the deed states. ‘charge.

In 2015, according to the prosecution, Kamcev and his family entered into the scheme, asking their own company to take over the Belize offshore company’s stake in the Skopje company, “although they knew the property had been acquired through criminal activity “.

In addition to the three plots in Vodno, the indictment covers another 2,729 square meter building plot in the center of Skopje, two apartments in Skopje, as well as two building plots in Krushevo, with a total value of of nearly 800,000 euros. The prosecution claims that Risto Novacevski was only their fictitious owner, and that the real owner was again Gruevski.

Gruevski, who ruled the country from 2006 to 2016, fled to Hungary in 2018 to avoid serving a two-year prison sentence for the illicit purchase of a luxury limousine.

In a post on his Facebook, he said the latest case was also politically motivated. “The criminal Zoran Zaev [the current Prime Minister] continues with politically motivated prosecutions and terror against those who do not think like him, ”he wrote on Facebook on Wednesday.

Gruevsky accused his political rival of pressuring people to become false witnesses in this latest case against him.

The prosecution opened a first investigation into the case in October last year.

While Gruevski enjoys political asylum in Hungary, Mijalkov is already in detention, after a first-instance verdict in February found him guilty and sentenced him to jail for the massive illegal wiretapping of people.

In March, Kamcev was also taken into custody, citing the likelihood of a possible escape in connection with the case, which his lawyers called unfounded.

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