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Saturday, February 4, 2023

As much as two million euros transferred to Gen-I from the Belgrade office

By: Domen Mezeg / Nova24tv.si

In recent days, the central media, headed by Mladina, suddenly remembered that Prime Minister Robert Golob might have outstanding bills from the time he served at the top of the state-owned company Gen-I (he was the chairman of the board). The police have confirmed that they are conducting pre-trial proceedings related to the suspicion of criminal abuse of position or trust in economic activity. The case is directed by the Specialised State Prosecutor’s Office, but the details are not yet known. When revealing that an investigation was underway, Golob once again served the public with deception. Already at the beginning of May of this year, the Albanian portal Reporteri published a detailed report on Golob’s controversial transactions. The Slovene Democratic Party is still waiting for the signatures of NSi party for the establishment of a parliamentary investigative commission on controversial transactions with the state-owned company Gen-I, which is already underway in Kosovo.

It is a business related to the Kosovo diplomat Martin Berishaj, against whom an investigation was initiated in Kosovo by authorised state institutions. We could read about the diplomat in some media even before the parliamentary elections. According to reports from the Kosovo media, there is talk of Berishaj’s business, or the transfer of money from Gen-I in Belgrade, and of almost two million euros.

In less than five years, i.e., from the end of 2016 to the end of 2020, the money flowed into the accounts of MB Consulting, Berishaj’s company in Montenegro. And although it was founded in mid-December 2016, the operations in Montenegro by the Kosovo ambassador in Croatia in the same year turned out to be around 100 thousand euros in revenue. The most successful year for “MB Consulting” with Berishaj as the sole owner and sole employee was 2017, when his company recorded approximately 1 million euros in revenue. According to the Slovenian media, more than half a million euros flowed from Serbia, via the Belgrade branch of Gen-I (an energy trading network based in Slovenia), which operates throughout the region. It could not be ascertained from Berishaj whether the remaining income is of the same origin. The consulting business was registered by the professor of political science and international relations on December 12th, 2016, and from the very beginning it turned out that surprising revenues could be detected in the turnover statements of this company.

In just 19 days of the company’s operations, it received almost 100,000 euros in revenue through the public data transmission platform. In 2016, although the company was registered 19 days before the end of the year, it had a fixed annual revenue of 99,793.00 euros. The entire year 2017 was also commercially successful. In 2017, the company MB Consulting had annual revenues of 900 thousand and 666 euros. Even in this year, only one person was employed – the owner Berishaj. In 2017, although Berishaj was not a well-known public figure, as an intellectual, in the second half of the year, the then Prime Minister Ramuš Haradinaj appointed him as a member of the government commission to evaluate the agreement on the demarcation of the border with Montenegro. A few months later, in May 2018, Berishaj suddenly “landed” in the Vetëvendosje movement (centre-left party in Kosovo), whose leadership rewarded him with the position of ambassador to Croatia after almost four years. He is known to be close to some top political figures such as Prime Minister Albin Kurti and Parliament Speaker Glauko Konjufca. After the withdrawal of cash, which raised suspicions of money laundering, the company’s annual revenues, almost in the amount of 1 million euros in the previous year, in 2018, for business related to consulting and management in Montenegro, fell sharply.

“Since May, we have been waiting in vain for the promised signatures of the NSi MPs, under the request for the establishment of an investigative commission of the National Assembly regarding suspected abuses in Gen-I. But the skeletons (in millions of euros) are rapidly falling out of the closets during the work of such a commission in the Parliament of Kosovo,” wrote Janez Janša regarding Golob’s controversial dealings with Kosovo diplomat Berishaj, which we already reported before the parliamentary elections.

He was awarded diplomatic service

However, considering the fact that the company only had one employee, revenues still remained high. In 2018, a registered company 100% owned by Berishaj in Montenegro reported 368,738.00 euros in annual revenues. A year later, the company MB Consulting slightly increased its revenues – to 382,547.00 euros per year (in 2019). In the following year (i.e., in 2020), these fell again to 233,664.00 euros. This is also the last year that the company reported annual revenues in euros. The documents of the financial statements reported to the tax administration of Montenegro for 2021 show that Berishaj did not declare any income in that year, i.e., during the period when the head of the Institute for Albanian Studies in Slovenia returned to Kosovo due to political involvement, and that he was awarded diplomatic service. The total revenues from December 2016, when it was founded, until the end of 2020, which “MB Consulting” reported to the Montenegrin tax administration, amount to almost 2 million euros – exactly 1 million 985 thousand 408 euros, according to the documents obtained in the process. The above-mentioned data are basically the result of research by the Online Newspaper from Slovenia.

Some time ago, Planet TV published evidence that supposedly around 600,000 euros was transferred from the Belgrade branch of Gen-I to the accounts of Berishaj’s business in Montenegro in the period 2019/2020. The discovery, which appeared in the media just before the parliamentary elections, proved to be extremely important for Kosovo as well, as the country’s ambassador was involved in suspicious financial transactions. We are talking about the suspicion of money laundering, hiding deals in Montenegro, and transferring money from Serbia to his account (from a Slovenian company). More than half a million euros in cash was transported from Montenegro to Slovenia, allegedly smuggled by the Kosovo ambassador to Croatia – Berishaj, through “MB Consulting”. With documents, Planet TV proved that there was a withdrawal of cash in the amount of about 600 thousand, but not that the money was received by Golob, the former director of Gen-I and the current Prime Minister. Both those allegedly involved have denied the allegations. But now it is clear that between 2016 and 2020, the ambassador received two million euros at the expense of a Montenegrin company, and in 2019 and 2020, he should have received around 600,000 from the turnover of “MB Consulting”. According to Planet TV, all revenues in the turnover statements of “MB Consulting” are from the Gen-I subsidiary in Serbia.

He finished his studies in Ljubljana and he is also deeply involved in cultural and political life in Slovenia

Berishaj, the former president of the first Albanian party in Slovenia, the “Democratic Union of Kosovo”, was at that time a member of the presidency of the Vetëvendosje movement, although he continued his life in Slovenia, where he also lectured at the University of Ljubljana. Since the outbreak of the scandal in Slovenia, Berishaj has only spoken once. The diplomat decided to clear his good name through the court system “due to defamation”. However, he does not answer the journalist questions and has become silent. It is also known that he declared his assets to the anti-corruption commission in Kosovo in January of this year. Officially, he has two apartments, one worth 180 thousand and the other worth 50 thousand. The first was allegedly bought (according to him) in 2001 with the combined family income and savings, and the second in 2006, also bought with savings. He also claimed that he has a house worth 72 thousand, inherited from his parents, and inherited land worth 80 thousand. He also declared a Mercedes car, which he said was also bought with savings in 2016, worth 15 thousand and an Audi 8, which was declared by his wife and was also bought with savings, and which was worth 42 thousand in 2018 euros.

In addition to his salary (for his job in Kosovo diplomacy, he supposedly received 40 thousand a year) and 24 thousand – the annual salary of his wife in Ljubljana, he also stated that he has 15 thousand euros in his bank account, and his wife has 10 thousand in her account. That is all. He does not mention any business, neither in Kosovo, nor in Slovenia, nor in Montenegro. However, public records show that he is a co-owner of two more companies registered in Kosovo. That is why the anti-corruption commission has already started checking his assets. Particularly scandalous is the fact that Kosovo President Vjosa Osmani blindly trusts Berishaj. The controversial diplomat was born in Tuz, Montenegro, where he completed primary and secondary school, and studied in Ljubljana in 1984 (FDV). He also obtained the titles of Master and Doctor in Ljubljana. Since 1989, he has been actively involved in cultural life in Slovenia, where he includes Albanians in political life. At the same time, he was strongly politically active in Kosovo after the war.

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