04 Feb CIN-CG & VIJESTI INVESTIGATION ABOUT THE ATLAS AFFAIR: KNEZEVIC WAS PAYING DJUKANOVIC’S BILLS VIA ATLAS BANK
Milo Djukanovic had an open account in Atlas Bank where he was piling up thousands of euros of credit card debts without restraint. Consequently Dusko Knezevic covered the debts from his companies’ assets. Thus his long-term generosity to the ever ruling Democratic Party of Socialist’s (DPS) also extended to the party’s boss and the country’s president Milo Djukanovic. This is corroborated by the documents that the CIN-CG and Vijesti have obtained while investigating the Atlas Affair.
The documents show that Knezevic used his Atlas Bank, which is now under Special Prosecution Office’s (SPO) investigation, to cover the spending on Djukanovic’s VIP revolving credit card (the card’s number: 505000000000432691). Djukanovic used his VIP credit card for his personal needs but he wasn’t bothered with the accumulated debt. Thus his outstanding balance was graded as ’risky loan’ which was subsequently covered by the bank. One outstanding balance of the current president amounted to €16,741.24 and it was written-off in Feb 2017 along with other noncollectable loans altogether worth €14 million. Knezevic’s bank extended this courtesy to some other prominent figures as well.
KNEZEVIC REVEALS THE CARD DETAILS WHILE ATLAS BANK ADMINISTRATOR STAYS SILENT
“I can confirm that the card belonged to Milo Djukanovic. His outstanding debts were covered by the Atlas Bank on my orders“ replied Knezevic to our question if he had paid Djukanovic’s personal expenses.
On the other hand, CIN-CG & Vijesti repeatedly tried to hear from the temporary administrator of Atlas Bank, Tanja Teric on whether the bank covered the debts of the state dignitaries and who was the holder of the aforesaid card (no 505000000000432691). The temporary administrator appealed to non-disclosure policy of the bank as set forth by the Banking Law. Djukanovic himself didn’t reply to our inquiries that we had sent to the Office of President and to the Democratic Party of Socialists’ HQ.
However, upon publication of this text Milo Djukanovic did publicly admit that he had a revolving credit card (with a limit of €30,000) issued by the aforementioned bank until 2015 but he was not aware of any outstanding balance blaming the wide conspiracy to tarnish his reputation. He also threatened to sue Atlas Bank. Nonetheless after a few days the Atlas Group announced that Djukanovic paid the debt upon revelation of the same.
TWO COMPANIES OF THE ATLAS GROUP COVERED THE DEBTS
According to documents that CIN-CG & Vijesti had obtained in their financial investigation, the debts of Milo Djukanovic and other persons and companies with ties to Dusko Knezevic were covered through the contract on founding capital transfer from Rekreaturs Budva LLC to the Atlas Bank on 22 Feb 2017. Thereby the aforesaid €14.056 million of risky loans and outstanding payments have been covered including the one of Djukanovic. Thus the bank took over the assets of other companies of Knezevic (Podgorica-based Atlas Invest and Cyprus-based VB Holding) to resolve the noncollectable loans. We already reported, citing the Atlas Bank audit reports, that the risky loans (which were past due over 90 days) had a whopping share of 30% of all loans.
VIP CARD HOLDERS WERE SPENDING MONEY WITHOUT RESTRAINT
The Central Bank of Montenegro (CBofMN) audit report 2015 confirms the practice of Atlas Bank of granting risky loans without guarantees and collaterals to influential persons and companies. The CBofM was tolerating such behaviour.
Thus the report which was drafted by the staff of then vice-governor Velibor Milosevic (now in detention over his role in the Atlas Affair) warns of “VIP card holders’ list“ which was not endorsed by the board of directors of the bank. Furthermore the report says that the credit limits were set by the major shareholder and president of the Atlas Group Dusko Knezevic who held no position at the bank and had no authority to make such decisions. The VIP list customers were never blocked over outstanding balance and their credit limits were increased in spite of everything. At the end of the day the overall credit card debt amounted to €2.2 million that the bank was due to Visa International and Master Card.
Knezevic publicly confessed that he had lavishly donated Djukanovic and his party after his clash with Djukanovic and the state prosecutors who accuse him of money laundering via Atlas Bank. Knezevic’s donations to the ruling Democratic Party of Socialists (DPS) do not appear in its financial reports. After long silence Djukanovic did confess that Knezevic donated the party. However it is still unknown how much money went from Knezevic to the president of Montenegro for his personal needs.
However, a daily newspaper Dan recently reported that Knezevic footed the bill of €38,000 for Djukanovic’s (and his companion’s) vacation of seven days back in 2011. They stayed in a royal suite at Dubai’s One & Only The Palm resort.
It appears that the revolving card debt and the lavish spending in Dubai are just a drop in the ocean. Dusko Knezevic announces further revelations (backed up by solid evidence) of corruption, racketeering and nepotism among the top Montenegrin officials. Montenegro aspires to join the European Union and is paying lip service to reforms and the standards of western democracies. Nonetheless those countries and societies highly value the rule of law and full accountability of state officials. Thus it’s beyond doubt that in those countries people like Djukanovic would instantly step down to face various corruption related charges in court.
Goran KAPOR / Milka TADIĆ-MIJOVIĆ