Milosevic's secret overseas hoard 'worth over £70m'

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The Independent Online

President he may be no longer, but Slobodan Milosevic remains the boss of bosses at the apex of a criminal organisation and has salted away more than $100m (£70m), according to an investigation conducted by the German Federal Intelligence Service (BND).

President he may be no longer, but Slobodan Milosevic remains the boss of bosses at the apex of a criminal organisation and has salted away more than $100m (£70m), according to an investigation conducted by the German Federal Intelligence Service (BND).

The BND believes Mr Milosevic spread his ill-gotten gains in Russia, China, Cyprus, Greece, Lebanon and South Africa. His son, Marko, who was thrown out of China last week and is now believed to be in Russia, is alleged to have deposited millions of dollars in bank accounts in Cyprus and South Africa recently, while Switzerland is also said to be home to millions of pounds of the Milosevic clan's money.

The file on Mr Milosevic, leaked yesterday to the German press, names a dozen senior Serbian politicians as cohorts in a mafia that has bled Yugoslavia dry for a decade or more. "Considerable evidence indicates that Milosevic and his entourage constitute an organised crime structure and are engaged in drug dealing, money laundering and other criminal acts," the report said. The file also alleges that about 60 people allied to the ousted Yugoslav president have been ruling the country and have prospered in the shadow of war and chaos.

"The near total control of key economic posts by Milosevic followers opened opportunities for illegal capital transfer for personal enrichment and financing for political plans - weapons purchases - and served as camouflage for criminal activity - drug trade," the report alleged.

Among the Milosevic cronies named in the report are Dragan Tomic, parliamentary president; Mirko Marjanovic, the Serbian Prime Minister, and Dragan Kostic, the former minister of energy. The long arm of the Milosevic organisation reached the Yugoslav National Bank, the country's Customs and Excise, the airline JAT, the petroleum concern NIS-Jugopetrol and the aptly named communications firm Mobtel.

In Belgrade the extent of the Milosevic millions has been speculated on for years, but only rarely has anyone found any proof.

With the imposition of international sanctions on Yugoslavia eight years ago, massive smuggling operations began to bring in forbidden goods. The smuggling is said to have been controlled by Mr Milosevic and his cronies, who made vast profits from it. Notable among the profiteers was Mr Milosevic's son, Marko, who fled to Moscow shortly after his father was deposed.

The countries named in the German intelligence report have been mentioned in connection with Mr Milosevic's dealings for years, especially Cyprus.

Last week, the woman who set up a Nicosia branch of the Belgrade Bank in Cyprus (it was later renamed) was sacked as the head of the bank. Borka Vucic, a 72-year-old woman who is a diehard ally of the deposed president, was marched from her office by armed men and whisked away in a waiting car. Her successor at the bank says he is going to make public the bank's financial records since 1992.

Serbian papers report that on Sunday night Ms Vucic returned to her old office in the dead of night for an hour, and it is now rumoured that she was returning to destroy incriminating evidence. Mr Milosevic was the head of Belgrade Bank in the Eighties, and it was there that he met Borka Vucic.

Another name to emerge in connection with Belgrade Bank's murky dealings is Miobrag Zecevic, the former head of the Franco-Yugoslav Bank in Paris and best man at Mr Milosevic's wedding.

In 1996, the French authorities charged him with fraudulently redirecting 5m Swiss Francs to two banks in Zurich, but the affair was unresolved.

Mr Zecevic's successor at the Franco-Yugoslav Bank was Borislav Milosevic, the brother of the deposed president who is still the Yugoslav ambassador to Moscow, where the younger Mr Milosevic is holed up.

* Supporters of the new Yugoslavian President, Vojislav Kostunica, tightened their grip on power yesterday with a deal that secures early elections and a place in government in Serbia, the country's dominant republic. The reformers announced a deal setting Serbian parliamentary elections for 23 December and providing a transitional government that will share power among Mr Kostunica's allies and the Socialists of the deposed former president.

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