Report: Vucic’s best man linked to Serbia’s shady businessman; Vucic has no clue


Serbia's President Aleksandar Vucic's best man Nikola Petrovic, bought the 'Air Posh' airline from a controversial businessman Stanko Subotic for 100,000 Euro, local investigative website KRIK and Organised Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) said on Tuesday.

The company had earlier purchased ‘Cessna 550’ plane from a New York company, a small business jet with an estimated value between 700,000 and 1.3 million Euro, KRIK said.

The KRIK and OCCRP report the contract between Petrovic and Subotic was signed behind close doors and on behalf of an offshore company registered in Luxembourg.

Petrovic founded the company in Luxembourg in early 2019 and then secretly entered several businesses n Serbia – in the development of technology for solar energy, the import of medicines and air transport, KRIK reported.

The website said that the international journalistic project ‘OpenLux’ described Subotic as a powerful businessman with links to the world of crime, including the drug lord Darko Saric, recently sentenced to 15 years in prison for smuggling some six tonnes of cocaine.

KRIK recalled that Subotic was on trial for cigarette smuggling. He was originally sentenced to six years in prison, but the verdict was overturned, and he was released.

The Cassation’s Supreme Court later ruled the judges who acquitted Subotic violated the law when they removed the prosecution’s evidence from the case.

Data from the Luxembourg business register which the French ‘Le Monde’ newspapers and OCCRP had access to reveal who the real owners of companies founded in Luxembourg as an offshore destination were.

KRIK was among the 16 partners of the ‘Le Monde’ who investigated deals that businessmen from Serbia concluded through their Luxembourg companies.

The data reveals that Subotic is close to power-holder in Serbia’s and had connections with some people from Vucic’s inner circle.

In an interview with KRIK four years ago, Vucic said that he had „absolutely no contact“ with Subotic and that he had never given money to the Serbian Progressive Party (SNS), led by Vucic.

Asked on Tuesday by N1 to comment on his best man’s deals with Subotic, Vucic said: „I have no clue what he buys and what business he is in,“ adding he had 75 best men, and that one of them, Zoran Basanovic, was plotting with Dragan Djilas, an opposition leader, to oust him.

He said Petrovic was a wealthy man before politics.

After Vucic came to power in 2012, Petrovic was appointed director of the state company ‘Elektromreza Srbije’  (Serbia’s Power Network) which he left to start a private business in producing electricity in mini-hydropower plants in 2016 which it later sold to the state for millions of Euro, the investigative study said.

According to KRIK, three months after Subotic founded a company in Luxembourg in 2019, Vucic’s best friend Petrovic registered his company’ Fabergé Advisors’ there as well.

Despite the company’s ownership structure is complex (the owner is a company from Great Britain which is owned by a company from Cyprus), the documents from the ‘Open Luxembourg’ project which KRIK journalists had access to proved Petrovic is the real owner of the company.

Petrovic’s and Subotic’s company are located at the same address in Ludelange which housed the headquarters of the tax consulting agency ‘Auditex, dealing with founding companies.

Over 400 companies are registered at the same address.

Subotic and Petrovic companies also share the same directors, two Frenchmen and Belgians, who also led some other companies in Luxembourg.

In April 2019, Subotic founded the ‘Air Posh’ airline in Serbia, which bought ‘Cessna 550’ plane next year. The deal was done through the ‘EMI’ company.

In October 2020, Subotic sold the company to Petrovic far below its real value, according to a contract saw by KRIK journalists in Serbia’s business register.

KRIK and OCCRP unsuccessfully tried to check the findings with Petrovic.

„I am not a public figure. I am not interested in answering your questions. Don’t call me again. I will report you for harassment,“ he said over the phone.

In a letter to Krik, he said: „Users of the services of my companies are not state officials of the Republic of Serbia. It is expensive for them. I will not reveal who the users are.“

Subotic did not answer KRIK’s queries sent to his lawyers.