By: Tanja Brkić / Nova24tv
The Balkans have been shaken by a financial affair involving our Prime Minister Robert Golob and the Kosovo Ambassador to Croatia, Martin Berishaj. Berishaj has recently been the main subject of Kosovo’s headlines, because everyone is surprised that he remains Ambassador despite all the evidence against him. The Kosovo media have hinted that Berishaj still enjoys the support of Kosovo’s Prime Minister, Albin Kurti, which is comparable to the protection offered to Robert Golob by the deep state in Slovenia. Not only was Golob the President of the Management Board of the Gen-I energy company at the time when the money was being transferred to Berishaj’s company, but judging by the information provided by the journalist Xhezair Dashi of the Insajderi (Insiders) media outlet to our media outlet, it is likely that Berishaj was even involved in Slovenian domestic politics during the parliamentary elections.
More and more information is coming to light about Golob’s financial affair. Although Prime Minister Robert Golob and Kosovo’s Ambassador to Croatia Martin Berishaj deny knowing each other, the puzzle is being pieced together piece by piece. It seems that the speculation about the financing of Kosovo Prime Minister Albin Kurti‘s election campaign is actually not just speculation, but even an alleged return of a favour. We also spoke to Xhezair Dashi, a journalist from the Insajderi media outlet, who made a documentary about Berishaj and his involvement in the affair, in which he also mentions the possibility of Berishaj’s involvement in the Slovenian parliamentary elections.
But let’s leave aside for a moment the fact that Golob persistently denies knowing Martin Berishaj. More and more information is coming to light, and it seems that the actors in this story knew each other quite well. The Kosovo media outlet Insajderi has written a lot about the affair, and a documentary has been made about Berishaj, in which the essential information is precisely that Berishaj’s role as Ambassador was crucial for the transfer of money from country to country, because diplomats’ packages are not checked at borders.
Both Golob and Berishaj under the protection of the “mainstream media”
Just as Golob enjoys the support and protection of the deep state in our country, which was evident during and after the parliamentary elections, Berishaj enjoys the protection of Kosovo’s Prime Minister, Albin Kurti. Dashi goes on to explain that in Kosovo, “we have had ambassadors who were dismissed for mere misbehaviour, such as parking a car wrong, and now there is an ambassador whose name is mentioned in a million-dollar money laundering scandal, but nothing has happened yet. On the contrary, so much energy is being invested by the media in isolating him from the affair, and in the zeal to discredit any media outlet that dares say otherwise. His figure, though unsuccessfully, is being presented by the government as honourable,” Dashi explains. The situation described here mirrors the situation in Slovenia, and Golob, on whom the mainstream media only reported positively in the run-up to last year’s parliamentary elections, and they continue to do so today by covering up and glamorising the situation that happened under his leadership. Why else would they remain silent on such an important matter? Not only that, but they also continuously ignore everything else, too: from Golob setting up a paramilitary unit for his own security guard, who is not employed anywhere in a state body, to political pressure on the Minister of the Interior. Both seem to have the support of the “deep state” in a broad sense, which explains what has been written, as well as the following information.
Dashi goes on to say that the affair was also discussed with the Montenegrin NGO Alternativa Crna Gora (Alternative Montenegro), which was the first to claim that money siphoned off from Berishaj’s highly controversial company, MB Consulting, was also used to finance the election campaign of the Self-Determination Movement of Kosovo, the party of Prime Minister Albin Kurti (Lëvizja Vetëvendosje).
Last year, MB Consulting’s bank accounts were blocked by the Central Bank of Montenegro due to a 30,000-euro tax debt owed to the tax administration. This company had no employees, no business circulation, nothing but one employee, Berishaj, who had only one task – to withdraw large sums of money coming from the Slovenian Gen-I energy company, and all this happened during the management of Robert Golob.
Berishaj is clueless about energy deals, but he was paid large sums of money for consultancy work
The media outlet Insajderi also discussed the matter with Valon Syla, an experienced journalist in Kosovo, who believes that there are several possible scenarios, but Dashi also points out the following sequence of events, namely that “Berishaj, an Albanian citizen in Montenegro, gets money from Serbia, sends it to Slovenia, and is appointed ambassador to Croatia from Kosovo. This is an unbelievable turn of events,” says Dashi. Insajder has published all of Berishaj’s business dealings, which give a rather dubious picture of his activities. “Someone who is getting paid huge amounts of money to advise on electricity trading, someone who is a social scientist/political scientist and has nothing to do with the field of trade, let alone energy trade. He is quickly given Kosovo citizenship, and suddenly he is appointed Ambassador to Croatia, everything about him arouses suspicion to the keen observer,” Dashi explains.
Is there a temporal link between Golob’s victory in the parliamentary elections and Berishaj’s appointment as Ambassador?
Dashi believes that the timing of Golob’s victory in the parliamentary elections and the decision of the new Kosovo government to appoint Martin Berishaj, a key player in the whole story, as Croatian Ambassador, and the link between Kurti and Golob or the “deep state,” is also something worth considering, as mentioned by some other Balkan media as well. According to Nebojša Bakarec’s writing for the media outlet Informer, Kurti quickly granted Berishaj Kosovo citizenship before nominating him for Ambassador, and Bakarec also repeats some facts that were already known beforehand – “Until November 2021, Golob was the main man (President of the Management Board) of the powerful energy company “Gen-I”, which has been operating in Kosovo for a long time. It was during the two years of Kurti’s rule, 2021 and 2022, that Golob’s company became the most powerful energy player in Kosovo, and got the most lucrative deals. Golob has known Berishaj for decades. Golob and Kurti are also ideologically close. They lead two relatively new parties, both of them left-liberal, both of them emphasising supposed modernity.”
As we have already mentioned, journalist Valon Syla also spoke about this in the documentary. He told the Metro media outlet that, judging by various media sources, it is possible to envisage several scenarios, one of which is that Berishaj was involved in internal affairs during the Slovenian parliamentary elections. “It is important to note that Berishaj has implicated four countries in the latest scandal, and here we have Serbia, GEN-I, Albania, Slovenia and so on and so forth, which are involved in energy trade, mainly in relation to imports, which the countries get from GEN-I. The second country he mentioned is Montenegro, where Berishaj has taken millions from his bank account, which is also proven. The list also includes Slovenia, where the money was most likely spent in parliamentary elections, and Croatia, where Berishaj works as a diplomat.”
The only solution is to resign
Syla wonders why the Kosovo ambassador is interfering in the internal affairs of a friendly country, and the key question for us is why Golob allegedly financed the Kosovo Ambassador’s company or the Kosovo Prime Minister’s election campaign with state money, at the expense of taxpayers. Syla concludes that the only honourable solution for Berishaj, in this case, would be to resign or be dismissed. The same conclusion can be drawn for Robert Golob. Even if money was flowing in from the other branches, they were still under the leadership of Robert Golob at the time, who logically had to check and approve all transactions.
Syla explains in the Indoks documentary that Berishaj certainly maintains old links with energy companies and that this is understandable given the past nature of his work, but that there is much more to this case. “It is clear that Berishaj is more than just a diplomat, he has a talent for making money. He has the right to engage in other activities and to invest in the sale and purchase of energy, but not under the guise of being Kosovo’s Ambassador,” states Syla, who goes on to argue that this affair has made Berishaj a key player, a link for relations between countries, including the friendly relationship between Slovenia and Kosovo.
Berishaj allegedly lied to the Kosovo Commission of Inquiry
According to Insajder, last November, Berishaj also sat before the Kosovo National Assembly’s Energy Commission of Inquiry, and made two statements under oath which, from all the information and transactions given, appear to be false. This is a criminal offence under the Kosovo Criminal Code, punishable by up to 3 years in prison. Last November, Kosovo’s Ambassador to Croatia, Martin Berishaj, was summoned to appear before the Kosovo National Assembly’s Energy Commission of Inquiry. There, he also spoke about the money laundering scandal in which Golob was involved. The diplomat, who represents Kosovo in Croatia, admitted to the commission that he worked as a consultant for the Serbian energy trading company GEN, but denied any connection to it since 2020. “I know GEN, of course, it’s a company that has branches in 25 countries around the world, 13 international energy exchanges, with 100% Slovenian ownership, I was there as a consultant. I advised him on what this big company should do, as GEN was registered in 2009 with the Office of the Energy Regulator in Kosovo, it has been licensed since 2009, and it is engaged in sales. From 2019, 2020, I am no longer with them, because I started working as an Ambassador, and I am free from these issues,” Berishaj told the Kosovo MPs.
But although he made this statement under oath in front of the Commission’s MPs, it appears that he did not tell the truth. Firstly, he only became Ambassador in February 2021, and secondly, Gen-I was transferring money to Berishaj’s MB Consulting company even at the time when he was supposed to have finished his consultancy, in 2021 and 2022, writes the media outlet Insajderi. Berishaj’s company received its first money from GEN, with a branch in Serbia, on the 10th of February 2015, and it was 66,528 euros, while his income peaked in 2021, when he started his work as the Ambassador. That year, exactly 473,889 euros were paid into the Ambassador’s business account, followed by 119,445 euros a year later.
The affair has not yet reached its climax, it is still unravelling, and many important facts have not been discovered and disclosed yet.