Montenegro: Darko Šarić Associates Charged With Money Laundering
Prominent Montenegro businessman Blažo Dedić was charged before the Special Court in Belgrade and taken into custody last weekend after more than two years under investigation for allegedly laundering drug money for suspected fugitive kingpin Darko Šarić.
Dedic was arrested on an Interpol red warrant, according to our partners at the Center for Investigative Reporting in Serbia (CINS). His indictment, filed in Serbia in December 2011, describes a scenario that allegedly began with Darko Šarić and his associate Boban Stojiljkovic hiring an attorney specifically to help them develop a money-laundering operation.
According to the indictment, the men launched that operation by merging two smaller companies they own, Maestral Tours and Agus Construction, and using the joint firm they created to obtain commercial bank guarantees – backed by a cocaine money nest egg that they'd built from several deposits of under $20,000 so as to avoid triggering red flags. They used those commercial bank guarantees to buy the state's share in the company "Bratsvo," for almost $350,000, in 2009.
The indictment claims that Dedić then continued to buy and sell companies through his associate, Nemanja Pljevljak Krstajic, to whom he gave power of attorney as Director of Maestral Tours. Krstajic, a Serbian national, was recently extradited to Serbia to face charges.
After appearing at the High Court in Belgrade, Dedić was released, but his travel documents were held while he awaits probable extradition to Montenegro within the next 18 days. His company's bank accounts were frozen prior to the indictment, due to an oustanding debt of over $2.5 million.
Dedić denies the charges. "I never had any dealings with Darko Šarić and I think the investigation and the court will determine this - if they care to," Dedić told Podgorica's Vijesti newspaper.