Thursday, Apr 24th

Last update:23-04-2014 13:00

Italy: Citing Mafia Financial Troubles, Jailed Boss Says “Get A Real Job”
Italy’s economic crisis is hitting the Sicilian Mafia as well, say law enforcement officials in Palmero, Sicily.
Russia: CEO of ‘Russian Facebook’ Says He Was Ousted
Pavel Durov, the CEO of Russia’s most popular social media site Vkontake (VK), said on Monday that he was ousted by...
Mexico: Councilmen Describe Life of Fear Under Knights Templar
Councilmen from Michoacan have recounted life under a mayor who was in cahoots with Mexico's Knights Templar criminal...
Caribbean: Cocaine Trafficking Continues Rise Say US Officials
The proportion of drugs trafficked through the Caribbean has more than tripled in the space of five years, according to US...
India: Election Officials Seize Cash and Drugs Used To Buy Votes
Since March 5, Indian election officials have seized US$ 36 million, 2.7 million liters of alcohol, and 100 kilograms of heroin...
Former President Had Big Plans
By Kateryna Kapliuk, Slidstvo.info Would you like to stay in the Kyiv hotel of...
Ukraine: The "Family" Business of a Mezhygirya Contractor
By Maksym Opanasenko (Bureau of journalistic investigations “Svidomo”)...
Arkan, Bojović Associate Murdered
Rade Rakonjac, Arkan's murdered former bodyguard  By Stevan Dojčinović ,...
How Kurchenko's offshores worked
By Anna Babinets People who used to know young billionaire-in-exile Serhiy...
The Silent Looting of Russia
Dmitry Klyuev (left) and Andrei Pavlov (right) at an OSCE meeting in Monaco, in...
Hungarian Media Law Doomed
19 January 2011 By Tamás Bodoky The widely criticised new Hungarian...
Google is Not Your Friend
  The internet is a powerful tool in the service of investigative...

Bosnia: Zoran Copic Convicted for Laundering Drug Money

Friday, 03 August 2012 15:03
Print PDF

By The Center for Investigative Reporting

Zoran Copic, a Serbian businessman and associate of Montenegrin drug lord Darko Saric has been sentenced to five years in prison for laundering Saric’s money.

Drago Nizol, director of Copic’s Avio Rent company, was also sentenced Tuesday in the Banja Luka County Court in Bosnia’s smaller entity, Republika Srpska (RS) to four months in prison

Judge Olga Malesevic said RS prosecutors have proven all eight counts of the indictment. Among the evidence the prosecutors presented were recorded conversations between Copic and Nizol and members of various criminal organizations.

According to the indictment, Copic joined Saric and his associates from Serbia to launder drug money. Knowing where the money came from, Copic injected it into the economies of  the RS and Serbia, along with legal proceeds that masked the drug money.

More than US$5.8 million was deposited into the accounts of Copic’s export-import company Agrocoop between the end of 2008 and mid 2009. Of that, US$3.4 million came from Lafino Trade LLC and Mattenico LLC, registered in the US state of Delaware. Serbian prosecutors previously determined that both companies belong to Saric. Agrocoop received money from 14 offshore companies linked to Saric.

Copic used some of the drug money to buy the Bijeljina Sugar Factory in northern Bosnia, and transferred the rest to the account of his other companies in Bosnia and Serbia.

Ljubo Mrdjen, director of Agrocoop in Banja Luka, also participated in the scheme. He pleaded guilty during the trial and was sentenced to six months in prison. 

In an interview with journalists from the Sarajevo and Serbian Centers for Investigative Reporting (CIN/CINS), seven days before his arrest, Copic denied getting money from Saric to launder. He said Saric owed him for the purchase of Mitrosrem, one of Serbia's largest agricultural companies. Following Copic's arrest, CIN reported that Agrocoop was paying installments for the privatization of the Bijeljina Sugar Factory at the same time that money from Saric's companies was arriving into Agrocoop's account.

Judge Malesevic said that the money which came from other offshore companies, such as

Eurotrade Holdings LTD registred to Milosa Hamovic, son of Serbian energy mogul Vuk Hamovic, was also obtained through crime.

Nizol got a significantly lower sentence than Copic because the court determined he laundered money out of negligence.

While working as director of Avio Rent, Nizol borrowed nearly US$938,600 from Banja Luka-based Unis Tours, to buy a Cessna plane and a fuel cistern. Unis Tours was owned at the time by late Tomislav Vrhovac.

Nizol repaid part of the loan with money that came to AvioRent via Agrocoop, from Saric's offshore company Lafino Trade, thus, according to the court, unknowingly money laundering. However, the judge also said Nizol could have known about the origin of the money, given his position as director.

The Court also confiscated Copic's assests, including stock in the sugar factory worth US$11.45 million, the Cessna and  cistern, and a house in Banja Luka. If the sentence is confirmed, these will become the property of the RS.

Prior to sentencing Copic noted the large number of journalists filling almost all the seats in the courtroom, and said, ''This is certainly not a good a sign.“

 

 

 

Related Stories

Re:Baltica Completes Series on Latvian Health Care System
The Baltic Center for Investigative Journalism Re:Baltica, an OCCRP partner, has published the last installment in its series about the health care...
Trafficking and Terrorism: How Organized Crime Thrives on Passport Fraud
By Ana Baric Passport Stamps. Photo Credit: Flickr. Jon Rawlinson The March 7 disappearance of a Malaysia Airlines plane one hour into its flight...
Colombia: A Country Torn Between Peace and Corruption
By: Maria Virginia Olano In Colombia, it is no secret that laws and rules there can be bent and moved around, especially with a couple of bills in...
Press Persecution in Azerbaijan: Where Investigative Journalism Is “Espionage”
By Ana Baric Azerbaijan is maintaining its usual approach to press “freedom”: sponsoring pro-regime media and unapologetically repressing...
Venezuela: The Battle Against a Corrupt, Authoritarian State
By Maria Virginia Olano It was supposed to be the day Venezuela celebrates its young people. Instead, three students were killed, more than 70...