War in Europe: Serbia's London connection

Revealed: Where the friends of Milosevic live it up - and why their UK firms have gone bust

ABritish company owned by a minister in the Serbian government and close ally of Slobodan Milosevic has gone into liquidation owing pounds 450,000 in taxes. A second company, owned by his wife, has also gone bust, owing pounds 165,000 to the Inland Revenue.

Inquiries by The Independent on Sunday have established that companies run by Bogoljub Karic, minister without portfolio in the Milosevic regime, and his family, have been closed down because of the impact of UN sanctions.

But the family, dubbed the Rockefellers of Serbia because of its wealthy connections, continues to hold an impressive portfolio of properties in Britain, including "Wildwoods" a mansion set in expansive grounds in north London, and another three properties in the Enfield area. The family is said to use its London homes regularly and some of the children have been educated at public schools in London.

The Karic clan, including Bogoljub and his wife Milanka, together with his brothers Zoran, Sretan, Dragomir and a sister Hafa Karic, set up their English operations in 1991.They were a natural extension to their business successes at home; Bogoljub Karic runs Serbia's biggest private business, Braca Karic - "the Karic Brothers".

After the collapse of Communism, the family expanded its interests first to Ireland then Canada, where finally they obtained citizenship. Then in 1992, Bogoljub Karic bought, in his wife's name, the "Wildwoods" mansion, while brother Dragomir bought a luxury detached house in nearby Hadley Wood and brother Sretan a vast home set in 16 acres in Clay Hill, also in the same area.

The 18th century mansion is protected by large security gates with a sign saying "Warning! Guard dogs on patrol". The Karic house, decorated in the Italianate white and gold style, has had many additions over the years. It now boasts a private cinema, indoor swimming pool, a fully fitted gym and a disco for the teenagers. There is an enormous chandelier which was imported from Austria and required a specialist to be flown in to assemble it.

A neighbour in nearby Flash Lane, Enfield, said: "They keep to themselves. But they often have lots of children there." Locals also report that Mercedes limousines are seen coming and going, "but we haven't seen anyone since the Kosovar business started up," said one.

The Karic family are ethnic Serbians from the city of Pec, in Kosovo. The "Barac Karic" - the Brothers Karic - first came to fame as a folk group with sister Hafa on vocals in the 1970s. Even now their company website advertises a recent CD by the family. Zoran plays the bouzouki and Bogoljub, which translated means "Love of God", uncharacteristically, takes the back seat as bass guitarist.

Even under the former Yugoslavian dictator Tito the family were burgeoning entrepreneurs and later liked to portray themselves as martyrs of Communism. As Communism started to crumble they rapidly expanded and in 1988 they set up the Karic Bank, which has been one of the few private banks to survive the last turbulent decade.

The family is close to President Milosevic's clan. One of the younger members of the family, Goran Karic, 24, set up an Irish company with Marko Milosevic, the Serbian President's son. Marko, 25, has recently been accused in the British press of drug and tobacco smuggling.

The Brothers Karic have flourished and now run a conglomerate known as the BK group. They run the BK TV station in Belgrade, which has been at the forefront of criticism of Nato. They also run the mobile phone franchise in Serbia. As one expert remarked, "In order to control his business he [Bogoljub] would have to have reasonable relations with President Milosevic and his wife."

At the same time as the family was moving into Britain, it set up Thriftfine Ltd, an import/export company selling high quality goods such as jewellery and perfume to the elites of post-Communist Eastern Europe.

The company bought an office block in Great Marlborough Street, near Liberty's store in the West End of London, and refurbished it at great cost. It was to be a headquarters for Thriftfine and a second related company, J&K Ltd, set up with Milanka Karic and Sasa Karic, then 21, as directors and key shareholders.

In April 1993 the company received a $3.6m advance on a contract from the Russian government. But then the Karic family's English business plan was hard hit by the disintegration of Yugoslavia into war. As the two companies were Serbian-run they fell under the UN sanctions order imposed in 1992.

By May 1993 the company had to suspended much of its trading and the Bank of England froze the company accounts. At first Thiftfine received financial support from sister companies run by the Karics and based in Cyprus, which lent $3.6m to pay back the Russians. In 1997 the Great Marlborough Street property was transferred to a Cyprus company to repay the loans.

When the family realised that UN sanctions were going to be a long-standing problem they put Thriftfine and J&K in liquidation. The main creditors were the Customs and Excise VAT office, the Inland Revenue and the related company in Cyprus called Yocyco Ltd. Liquidators Kian Seng Tan in north London say that the liquidation are nearly complete. "The only matter outstanding is whether Thriftfine was liable for VAT on the sale of the property," a spokesman said.

A spokeswoman for the Karic family in London confirmed the companies had been liquidated as part of a "restructuring" of the Karic British interests.

Suggested Topics
Alan Bennett criticised the lack of fairness in British society encapsulated by the private school system
peopleBut he does like Stewart Lee
David Moyes and Louis van Gaal
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black and Ed Stoppard as her manager Brian Epstein
tvCilla Episode 2 review: Grit under the glamour in part two of biopic series starring Sheridan Smith
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Life and Style
Vote with your wallet: the app can help shoppers feel more informed about items on sale
lifeNew app reveals political leanings of food companies
Arts and Entertainment
The cover of Dark Side of the Moon
musicCan 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition? See for yourself
New Zealand fly-half Aaron Cruden pictured in The Zookeeper's Son on a late-night drinking session
Arts and Entertainment
Worldwide ticket sales for The Lion King musical surpassed $6.2bn ($3.8bn) this summer
tvMusical is biggest grossing show or film in history
A new app has been launched that enables people to have a cuddle from a stranger
voicesMaybe the new app will make it more normal to reach out to strangers
Arts and Entertainment
Salmond told a Scottish television chat show in 2001that he would also sit in front of a mirror and say things like,
tvCelebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
Life and Style
food + drink
Rob Merrick's Lobby Journalists were playing Ed Balls' Labour Party MPs. The match is an annual event which takes place ahead of the opening of the party conference
newsRob Merrick insistes 'Ed will be hurting much more than me'
A cabin crew member photographed the devastation after one flight
Life and Style
Carol O'Brien, whose son Rob suffered many years of depression
healthOne mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
Life and Style
People walk through Autumn leaves in St James's Park yesterday
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Pharmaceutical Computer System Validation Specialist

£300 - £350 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Pharmaceutical Computer ...

High Level Teaching Assistant (HTLA)

£70 - £90 per day: Randstad Education Birmingham: Higher Level Teaching Assist...

Teaching Assistant

£50 - £80 per day: Randstad Education Birmingham: Randstad Education is the UK...

Senior Java Developer - API's / Webservices - XML, XSLT

£400 - £450 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client is currently ...

Day In a Page

Secret politics of the weekly shop

The politics of the weekly shop

New app reveals political leanings of food companies
Beam me up, Scottie!

Beam me up, Scottie!

Celebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
Beware Wet Paint: The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition

Beware Wet Paint

The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition
Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Can 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition?
Sanctuary for the suicidal

Sanctuary for the suicidal

One mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits