Macedonia Prosecutor Seeks Freeze on Former Ruling Party’s Assets

Macedonia’s special prosecutor said Monday it had asked courts to freeze the assets of the country’s nationalist VMRO-DPMNE, including its headquarters, amid deepening investigations into the former ruling party.

 EPP Congress Marseille 5964 6472496393VMRO-DPMNE leader Nikola Gruevski (Photo: European People's Party CC BY 2.0)The special prosecutor, which was set up in the wake of a wiretapping scandal in 2015, also announced it had launched three new investigations into alleged money laundering and corruption by party figures, Macedonian news site Alsat reported. Two of the investigations also involve former Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski, the party’s leader, as main suspect.

Hundreds of VMRO members have already been indicted on charges including corruption and offences connected to the alleged illegal wiretapping by the government of tens of thousands of Macedonians.

The special prosecutor alleges that Gruevski accepted €4.9 million (about US$ 5.5 million) in illegal donations for his party between 2009 and 2015.

He then allegedly transferred the money to 11 other party members who among other things used it to buy real estate, pay for party expenditures and hotel accommodation.

This case, named "Old Silver Coin", also names lawmaker Ilija Dimovski and senior party officials Emil Dimitriev and Kiril Bozinovski as suspects.

Gruevski is also the subject of a second investigation, called "Trajectory", alongside ex-minister Mile Janakieski, deputy prime minister Vladimir Pesevski and another official, according  to NOVA TV.

Wiretapped conversations allegedly show the four suspects awarding a €155 million (US$ 173 million) highway construction contract to Chinese company Sinohydro, despite another company offering a lower bid.

The final investigation, named "Lawn", involves the allegedly illegal construction of three weekend homes in the village of Zelenikovo by three party members, Balkan Insight reported.

The three reportedly only acquired building permits two years after starting construction.

Macedonian President Gorje Ivanov last week gave a mandate to Social Democrats leader Zoran Zaev to form a coalition government, nearly six months after election resulted in a hung parliament.