Former US Ambassador’s Ties To Alleged Balkan War Profiteer Exposed

Sasha Radovic (75), retired colonel and anti-corruption activist, was arrested on November 17, 2011, the very day he announced his candidacy in Croatia’s December 2011 parliamentary elections. According to published reports on March 10, 2014, Sasa Radovic was sentenced to two years in jail. In his many books, Mr. Radovic had exposed political corruption and the unexplained wealth of top state leaders, including cabinet ministers and a Croatian military general allegedly involved in oil smuggling throughout the Balkans during the UN arms embargo. During the 1990s, over 250,000 lives were lost in Europe’s worst genocide since WWII.

The extortion charges against Mr. Radovic were brought by Ivan Cermak, an ex-general and alleged war-profiteer whose wealth has been investigated by journalists and anti-corruption activists. The reports of criminality connected to Mr. Cermak have been ignored by Croatia’s authorities and a politically influenced judiciary.

Croatia’s Internet portal Dalje said that “…nobody knows how a small businessman (Cermak) that was installing air-conditioning and cooling devices before the war, gained so much wealth.”

Among many other investments and divestments, retired general Cermak sold a chain of 36 Tifon gas stations to Hungarian-based MOL in 2007 for some $210 million. In February 2014, Cermak’s company Crodux Plin purchased the Croatian subsidiaries of Austrian-based oil and gas company OMV, which included 62 gas stations, for some $140 million.

It is estimated that Mr. Cermak’s unexplained wealth is over $140 million.

What is the role of former US Ambassador William Dale Montgomery?

According to the company court registry documents, former US Ambassador to Croatia William Dale Montgomery (nominated by President Clinton in October 1997 to be the U.S. Ambassador to the Republic of Croatia and then to Yugoslavia/Serbia in November 2001) served as a board member of Crodux Plin, Croatia’s company owned by Ivan Cermak. What was Ambassador Montgomery’s role in Crodux Plin? What can he tell us about the unexplained wealth accumulated by Ivan Cermak? Ambassador Montgomery stepped down as a board member in July 2012.

Montgomery on Crodux Plin

In the recent report published by Washington, DC-based Global Financial Integrity, Croatia lost $17 billion (30% of GDP) in illicit financial outflows via crime, corruption, and tax evasion during 2001-2011.

Current Croatian Prime Minister Zoran Milanovic, investigative journalists, and whistleblowers have accused Croatia’s Chief State Prosecutor Mladen Bajic of blocking corruption investigations.

The EU’s Comprehensive Monitoring Report on Croatia, released on March 26, 2013, urged that “Regarding the system for checking on dismissals of criminal cases by the prosecutor, the current system does not provide for independent checks on decisions by State prosecutors to dismiss reports of crime.”

The rotating grip on Croatia’s parlous judicial systems

In March 2014, Croatia’s Chief State Prosecutor Bajic, accused of blocking corruption investigations, became Deputy Chief State Prosecutor; and its former deputy, who has also been the Chief of USKOK  (Bureau for Combating Corruption and Organized Crime) was confirmed as State Prosecutor. The duo has worked in tandem for the last 9 years, in which a great many criminal, corruption, and conflict-of-interest cases were ignored.
Political pressure on Croatia’s judiciary continues:
1) On January 20, 2013, Ivan Turudic, Croatia’s President of the Zagreb County Court (who decided in favor of Josip Perkovic’s extradition to Germany) publicly stated:

“This government is the worst in applying pressures on the judiciary in Croatia so far.”

Josip Perkovic, the former Yugoslav intelligence agency UDBA’s chief, was extradited to Germany for the murder of an intellectual who was critical about the communist regime. Josip Perkovic was instrumental in establishing Croatia’s intelligence structures under the authority of then-president Franjo Tudjman.
2) After refusing to proceed with a pre-bankruptcy procedure in a particular case, Mislav Kolakušić, Commercial Court Judge, was subjected to political pressure by Croatia’s Finance Minister, Slavko Linic (February 2014).
Judge Kolakusic:
“… my personal belief is that certain provisions of the Pre-bankruptcy Settlements Act and their application in specific cases constitute a violation of the Constitution and other laws to the detriment of creditors, the state budget, and thus all citizens of the Republic of Croatia, while providing some creditors favorable conditions for the realization of their claims, and in line with my conscience and duty entrusted to me as a judge, I was required to make a decision about stopping the process until the decision on my request for a constitutional review of some of its provisions is reached by Croatia’s Constitutional Court.”
Since Croatia’s authorities and judiciary are not tackling Cermak’s unexplained wealth, it is up to the US authorities to investigate details on US Ambassador Montgomery’s role in Croatia and the Balkan region, including any relevant information on money laundering. Any monetary US assistance to Croatia and the Balkans should be blocked, unless it is used for confiscation of illicit financial outflows and confiscation of unexplained wealth accumulated by corrupt politicians and their private partners in crime.

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Informing And Equipping Americans Who Love Freedom

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