The project is a joint effort of the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project and BBC’s Newsnight.
Miranda Patrucic of OCCRP/CIN-Sarajevo was the lead reporter with help from Valerie Hopkins from OCCRP, Azhar Kalamujic from CIN-Sarajevo and Stevan Dojcinovic from OCCRP/CIN-Serbia. We wish to thank Dejan Milovac, Mila Radulovic and Ines Mrdovic from MANS who provided public records, and reporters from Vijesti who provided assistance in reporting. Lejla Camdzic was the fact checker. Drew Sullivan was the project editor and John Holland provided additional editing.
We thank Meirion Jones and Liz MacKean from the BBC Newsnight for their reporting and expertise.
Journalists from the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) first reported on First Bank in 2009. Over the past three years, they have had access to documents from international organizations, state agencies and private businesses. These documents sometimes contain sensitive information on people and private companies. OCCRP has had to decide whether to release this information or not, a responsibility we take seriously.
OCCRP has ultimately decided that the public’s interests are best served by a full and complete disclosure of what we know. Our decision was based on the following factors: 1) On issues related to First Bank, government officials have repeatedly lied to the people of Montenegro and the record must be brought to light; 2) First Bank may have committed criminal acts that have not been investigated or prosecuted; 3) First Bank has benefited significantly from taxpayer resources and the public should know how their resources were used; 4)the government has been almost completely non- transparent about the bailouts and the banking crisis and the public knows very little about how the nation’s top banking regulator was ignored and undermined even though they correctly foresaw many problems.
It is our obligation as journalists to hold government accountable when it does not do so itself. The story demonstrates very severe conflicts of interest, corruption, mismanagement and incompetence of key members of the Montenegrin government. The people should be allowed to judge for themselves. We have taken all possible actions to mitigate any harm to individuals and organizations.
- Paul Radu – Executive Director, Bucharest
- Drew Sullivan – Editor, Sarajevo