Serbia: Coal Mine Corruption Trial Begins

The first of two corruption trials against Dragan Tomic, former director of the Kolubara coal mine in Serbia, started Monday. Tomic and four others were indicted in January on charges of abuse of power and of damaging the Kolubara budget for US$650,000 between 2004 and 2008. They face up to 12 years in prison.

During this period, Kolubara mine and an industrial recycling company "Inos sirovine Lazarevac" signed a series of contracts through which Inos purchased 5.8 million kilograms of scrap metal from Kolubara at reduced prices. The prices listed in the contracts ranged from 30 percent to 56.25 percent of actual market price.

Inos Director Milovan Radisvaljevic, is charged with exploiting his personal connections with the Kolubara executives to make the deals. He is also charged with taking US$389,605 from Inso for personal use. Tomic and the other three Kolubara executives are charged with abuse of power, as well as failing to take action against Inos when the company did not pay for the scrap metal, Blic reported.

Together with 27 others, Tomic was also indicted in April for embezzling US$11 million from Kolubara between 2006 and 2007. That indictment includes 12 former Kolubara executives and 16 owners of private companies that worked with Kolubara. According to this indictment, Tomic allegedly paid private companies for unnecessary mining equipment and services. Kolubara was overcharged for the number of hours put in by the private companies, and Kolubara executives did not follow public procurement procedure. The trial in that case has not started yet.

Located 50 kilometers southwest of the Serbian capital of Belgrade, the Kolubara coal mine produces 26 million tons of coal annually. Around 60 percent of  the electricity in Serbia derives from Kolubara coal.