A STATEMENT BY PUBLIC PROSECUTOR KATICA JANEVA AND INFORMATION ON THE NEW INVESTIGATIONS
A STATEMENT BY PUBLIC PROSECUTOR KATICA JANEVA AND INFORMATION ON THE NEW INVESTIGATIONS
Respected representatives of the media, respected citizens,
Allow me to take this opportunity to inform you that, as I have mentioned in the last press conference held at the end of June, the Public Prosecutor’s Office for Prosecuting Criminal Offences Related to and Arising from the Content of the Illegally Intercepted Communications continued working on the ongoing and launched new preliminary investigations, continued working on the launched investigations, as well as listening and processing the materials at the disposal of this Public Prosecutor’s Office, separating the private conversations, and focusing on detecting possible criminal activities, taking into account as usual, the legal provisions and the public interest of the Republic of Macedonia.
I would like to point out that the legal mandate of the Special Prosecutor’s Office is still running, and therefore, we assure you that practical measures shall be taken for full implementation of the Strategy for Justice Sector Reform adopted by the Government of the Republic of Macedonia and that soon this Prosecutor’s Office will operate in accordance with the terms prescribed by the Law on Criminal Procedure and the Criminal Code, which are necessary for this Prosecutor’s Office to successfully accomplish its main objective and mission.
Hence, we hope appropriate legal solutions will be adopted, especially for attaining the strategic objective, which will create an environment, upon the expiration of the mandate prescribed by law, in 2020, for transformation of this Prosecutor’s Office and its affiliation to the Public the Prosecutor’s Office of the Republic of Macedonia, as an institution which will independently deal with criminal offences under its jurisdiction and prosecution of high-profile corruption offences.
If the competent institutions, within the duration of the legal mandate of the Special Prosecutor’s Office, find a solution for this Prosecutor’s Office to bring indictments to court, I believe that we will bring more indictments and that the prosecutors of the Special Prosecutor’s Office and I will be able to prosecute the cases in the courts of law in the Republic of Macedonia in accordance with our legal jurisdiction. Further recognition of our work is the case law established by the decisions of the Skopje Court of Appeal which confirm that with the adoption of the Law on the Special Prosecutor’s Office the recordings resulting from the illegal interception of communications became a part of the legal order of the Republic of Macedonia and as such can be used as evidence in the court proceedings. Furthermore, the approval of the majority of indicted cases, evaluated according to the comprehensive material and verbal evidence which we provided, for which the court has already scheduled or initiated hearings, demonstrates the justification of the indictments brought.
Taking into account the foregoing, I expect that in the forthcoming period the court will evaluate the evidence submitted in support of the charges and that the remaining several indictments will be approved, which will enable us to prove in the court of law that the defendants committed the crimes with which they are charged.
In the forthcoming period, in addition to the ongoing work, the Special Prosecutor’s Office will draw up a Rulebook and other instruments for establishment of an investigative center which has already been informally and effectively operating in this Public Prosecutor’s Office, and at the same time, acting in accordance with the legal obligation, the Special Prosecutor’s Office will draft a Rulebook and establish a Procedure for Application of the Amendments to the Law on Witness Protection motioned at the Assembly.
I would like to inform the public that in the past period, the Special Prosecutor’s Office took over the cases SKOPJE 2014, AKTOR and the case of the illegal construction of the building COSMOS from the Public Prosecutor’s Office of First Instance Skopje and the Public Prosecutor’s Office for Prosecuting Organized Crime and Corruption Skopje, and adopted Decisions for claiming jurisdiction over the aforementioned cases within the legal time-frame of 8 days, whereafter this Public Prosecutor’s Office launched new preliminary investigations.
I consider that until an adequate decision is made about Article 22 of the Law on the Special Prosecutor’s Office, it is our legal obligation to continue with the work and launch new preliminary investigations and investigations, for which appropriate legal actions are being taken.
This Prosecutor’s Office is undoubtedly part of the justice system in the Republic of Macedonia, hence, feeling the need to contribute to finding solutions which will provide effective enforcement of the rule of law in the country, the prosecutors of this Office and I actively participate in the work group set up in the Ministry of Justice for drafting laws in the area of the penal law in line with the Strategy for Justice Sector Reform whose ultimate goal is overcoming the identified shortcomings and creating independent, accountable, professional and efficient judiciary.
At today’s press conference we will provide information about seven new investigations. After months of extensive pre-investigative activities, I have issued orders for conducting investigations of several persons suspected of abuse of official position and authorization, malfeasance, as well as for other criminal offenses.
Prosecutor Fatime Fetai will provide detailed information on the new investigations, whereafter Prosecutor Ljubomir Lape will take questions.
Thank you for your attention!
SEVEN NEW INVESTIGATIONS
- FOREIGN INTELLIGENCE SERVICES
The first investigation by the codenamed “Foreign Intelligence Services” has been launched against two individuals because there are reasonable grounds to suspect that they have committed the following criminal offence: Abuse of Official Position and Authorization pursuant to Article 353, paragraph 5, with regard to paragraph 1 of the Criminal Code, one acting in the capacity of instigator and the other acting in the capacity of a direct perpetrator.
The obtained evidence indicates that during the months of October and November of 2014, upon the request of one of the suspects who, during that time, was holding the position of Head of the Operational Technology Department within the Security and Counterintelligence Agency, a foreign company issued a report stating that they had detected, “with their own equipment”, illegal activities with cloned (double) base stations in the region of the City of Skopje. This report was supposed to confirm the hypothesis of the authorities in power at the time that the mass illegal interception was conducted by foreign intelligence services.
Undoubtedly, the production of such false report was also in the interest of the foreign company, and this was corroborated soon after. Namely, in December of 2014, one month after the commissioned report was produced, contrary to the procedures prescribed in the Public Procurement Law, with what seems to be the quickest procedure for public procurement of equipment, through the actions undertaken by the two suspects, namely by favoring this company, said company was awarded the contract for procurement of equipment for the needs of the Ministry of Interior.
This public procurement procedure was initiated at the initiative of the second suspect, the then Head of the Operational Technology Department within the Security and Counterintelligence Agency, who requested a procedure for procurement of the equipment in question to be conducted on 16.12.2014, pursuant to Article 7 of the Public Procurement Law, while the first suspect on 19.12.2014, adopted a decision for procurement, established a commission for that purpose and, at his own initiative, issued three calls for submission of public procurement bids to three foreign companies. Within five days, the „entire scheme was carried out“ to seem as if the representatives of the foreign companies in the Republic of Macedonia had received the invitations and had immediately submitted their offers, which, according to the initial findings, were filled out by hand by one person alone. The procedure was carried out even more expeditiously, to be more precise, after five days, i.e. on 24.12.2014, a decision for the selection of the most favorable bid was adopted and, that same day, the contract was concluded with the representative of the foreign company, who, for reasons best known to himself, that exact day was in the Republic of Macedonia. The equipment covered by this contract which is under reasonable suspicion of having been concluded by means of illegal activities undertaken by the two suspects, was delivered and installed in May of 2015.
This investigation by the codenamed “Toll” is launched because there is a reasonable suspicion that the suspect, then member of the Parliament of the Republic of Macedonia, committed the following criminal offence: Malfeasance, pursuant to Article 355, paragraphs 3 and 1 of the Criminal Code, with regard to the right of reimbursement of travel/commuting expenses incurred with one’s own vehicle.
During the period covered by the investigation, the suspect was a member of the Macedonian Parliament. Said person during her term from 25.06.2011 to 16.12.2015 submitted fake till receipts from toll booths to the administrative services of the Assembly, to seem as if she had commuted to attend sessions in the Assembly.
However, the evidence obtained indicate that said person was staying in Skopje and did not in fact commute to the mentioned destination to attend sessions in the Assembly. The suspect submitted toll receipts as proof that she had supposedly undertaken 843 commutes with her own vehicle from the city that is registered as her place of residence in her identity documents to Skopje.
It is worth mentioning that the analysis conducted indicates that, according to the submitted documentation, had those commutes in fact occurred with the vehicle in question, the suspect would have travelled a distance of at least 235.928 km, nonetheless, the evidence obtained indicate that the total distance travelled amounts to 133.520 km for the period in question. This is an additional indicator that the suspect did not in fact incur the recorded expenses, and that she has therefore deceived the authorized person in the Assembly of the Republic of Macedonia to carry out illegal reimbursements for commuting expenses in the significant amount of MKD 5.973.802,00, i.e. approximately EUR 100.000, as compensation for commuting expenses, which constitutes unlawful acquisition of assets.
- PROCUREMENT OF RADIOGRAPHY EQUIPMENT – X-RAY MACHINE
The investigation by the codenamed “X-ray machine” is launched due to the reasonable suspicion that in 2012, the then Minister of Health for the procedure of public procurement of radiography apparatuses and other equipment for the radiology departments in four health care facilities in the Republic of Macedonia committed the following criminal offence: Abuse of Official Position and Authority pursuant to Article 353, paragraph 5, with regard to paragraph 1 of the Criminal Code.
There is a reasonable suspicion that during this procedure the suspect favored one of the companies that participated in the procedure, and, before the official start of the procedure, he enabled said company to obtain detailed information with regard to the procurement subject. To be more precise, individuals hired by that company, using insider information, thoroughly studied the condition and the needs of the health care facilities for which they subsequently conducted the procedure and prepared a study. This fact was very well known to the suspect, since he received the study on his personal e-mail address during the month of August of 2012.
In January of 2014, the suspect terminated the framework agreement that was entered into following the procedure conducted in this manner, when information that a well-known journalist and her mother were part of the ownership structure of the company that was awarded the contract were revealed to the public.
However, there is a reasonable suspicion that the suspect continued the activities of abuse, namely, even though he knew that he should cancel the entire public procurement procedure, he failed to do so, and contrary to the provisions of the Public Procurement Law he entered into an agreement with the second-ranked bidder, and therefore acquired significant assets in the amount of approximately EUR 860.000.
Codenamed “Producer”, this investigation arises from the reasonable suspicion that, in the period between 2009 and 2012, the head of the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Water Economy at the time Abused the Official Position and Authorization contrary to the Law on Public Procurement and committed the offence of Abuse of Official Position and Authority, article 353 paragraph 5 with regard to paragraph 1 of the Criminal Code.
In November 2009, acting on behalf of the Ministry, the suspect entered into a business agreement with the Communications and Consulting Company SMART CENTAR DOOEL Skopje worth 50.000 EUR, expressed in MKD. According to the agreement, SMART CENTAR DOOEL Skopje acted as the producer of the TV show “The Colour of Money” airing on TV Sitel, whereas the Ministry, acting as the user of services, rented a timeslot in the course of the show for the purpose of airing a programming package created by the producer.
The agreement was made without implementing the procedure for public procurement, but referring to article 8 paragraph 1 line 2 of the Law on Public Procurement, although the article in question allows that such programming packages may be purchased outside the provisions of the Law on Public Procurement solely from a radio or TV station, which does not fit the description of the legal entity in question. SMART CENTAR DOOEL Skopje did not provide evidence of services completed yet received the full payment of funds from the Ministry to the tune of 50.000 EUR, benefiting the company and causing significant damage to the budget of the Republic.
The fifth investigation has the codenamed “Leaders” according to the telephone conversation which was made public with the release of the so-called “bombs”, in which two leaders of political parties work out a “policy” for demolition of a potentially unlawfully constructed buildings.
Grounds for investigation is the reasonable suspicion that an offence was committed regarding the unlawful construction of buildings, article 244a of the Criminal Code, where the suspect is the investor of the object built on a location in the vicinity of a foreign embassy in Skopje. Constructed between November 2011 and February 2013 with an area of 1000 m2, the object did not have a valid building permit.
- TARIFF 2
The sixth investigation file is codenamed “Tariff 2” in reference to the suspected abuse of power during the implementation of the ERP software in ELEM PLC. The investigative procedure is aimed at a single entity, the defendant in the case “Tariff”, following reasonable suspicion to have committed a new offence, “Abuse of Official Position and Authority,” under article 353 paragraph 5 with regard to paragraph 4 with regard to paragraph 1 with regard to article 45 of the Criminal Code. There is reasonable suspicion that damage was incurred on two grounds: firstly, to the tune of 146.400 EUR on the basis of an invalid payment made by ELEM PLC to a member of the NESS Consortium from the Czech Republic, where the suspect approved an invalid payment on the basis of data migration from the old system to the new, even as the proposed migration was to be completed during the system implementation phase, which has not been concluded to this day and has resulted in a system that is only partially implemented. Second, the same entity is suspected to have caused ELEM PLC financial damage to the tune of 72.480 EUR on the grounds of support on actual system roll-out. Namely, although efforts to put the ERP system in use failed, the suspect nevertheless authorised the payment of said sum to a member of the NESS Consortium.
Thus, reasonable suspicion exists that the suspect, from a position of authority as the liable project coordinator for ERP system implementation in ELEM PLC, caused financial damages totalling 218.880 EUR or 13.461.120 denars to the benefit of the Czech legal entity.
- TRANSPORTER 2
The seventh investigation to be presented today, codenamed “Transporter 2,” is in some respects a sequel to the illicit actions regarding organized student transportation in Bitola for the academic years 2009/2010 and 2010/2011. It encompasses ten suspects including, once again, the former mayor of Bitola and the former secretary of the municipality, as well as five authorized representatives of the transporting entities, who are already accused parties in “Transporter”. This investigation also concerns three elementary school principals who were not under investigation before.
To wit, the evidence at our disposal has led to a reasonable suspicion that during the academic year 2009/2010 the former mayor and the former secretary of the municipality, along with the suspected principals as co-conspirators, acted for the financial benefit of one of the transporting entities, to the tune of 230.000 MKD. In addition, there is reasonable suspicion that, during the academic year 2010/2011, the abovementioned suspects, along with the authorized representatives of the transporting entities as abettors, acted to the financial benefit of five transporting entities to the tune of 1.643.583 MKD. The former mayor and secretary of the Bitola municipality, along with the school principals, are once again suspected to have committed the offence of “Abuse of Official Position and Authority,” article 353 paragraph 5 with regard to paragraph 1 with regard to articles 22 and 45 of the Criminal Code, with the authorized representatives of the transporting entities as their abettors. The execution of the alleged offence is identical to that laid out in the prosecution’s case for “Transporter.”