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News 02 Jul 13

Media Claim Serbian PM’s Advisor Had Crime Links

Ivica Toncev, an advisor to Serbian premier Ivica Dacic, maintained contacts with several high-profile criminals over a period of years, local media have alleged.

BIRN
Belgrade

Toncev, national security advisor to Prime Minister Dacic, has been accused of maintaining long-term relationships with several mobsters, local media reported, quoting an investigation by the Organised Crime and Corruption Reporting Project, OCCRP, and the Centre for Investigative Reporting in Serbia, CINS.

OCCRP and CINS said they obtained their information from an internal report by the Serbian Security Information Agency, BIA, on Toncev and his links with criminals. However, the authenticity of the report, which dates from mid-2012, has not been officially verified.

According to OCCRP/CINS, in 2010, Toncev had several meetings with Milutin Markovic, a man allegedly engaged in the international distribution of drugs and an associate of Dragoslav Kosmajac.

According to the Serbian White Book on organised crime, an internal police document from 2001 used to track suspected criminals, Kosmajac involved in trafficking drugs from South America, Turkey, Bulgaria and Macedonia to Europe.

Toncev and Markovic were also partners in a construction company, O.T.O., registered in Vienna from 1998 to 2001.

Toncev confirmed to OCCRP/CINS and that he had a company with Markovic but said he hadn’t seen him recently and didn’t know that he was engaged in criminal activities while they were in business together.

According to the report, Rodoljub Radulovic, a high-ranking member of suspected drug lord Darko Saric's gang, had a meeting with Toncev at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Belgrade in 2009.

Toncev told OCCRP/CINS that the meeting was related to the energy business.

He said that he didn’t know Radulovic was involved in drugs and that was not interested. “I will meet with anybody who wants to invest in Serbia, with anybody,” he said.

The BIA intelligence report also said that Toncev had been friends for many years with Nenad Milenkovic, who was arrested in 2003 for heroin trafficking. However, no charge against Milenkovic was raised.

The men allegedly met regularly in Belgrade and in Toncev’s home town Surdulica.

“I know him from Surdulica, and not Belgrade. In Surdulica, there is nobody who does not know me… It’s a small place. But I never sat with Milenkovc,” Toncev told OCCRP/CINS.

OCCRP/CINS reporters also obtained a photograph of Toncev and alleged criminal Boris Petkov.

Petkov, according to the Serbian police’s White Bbook, was a major smuggler of heroin from Turkey and Bulgaria to the EU and had close ties to several crime groups. He died in 2002.

Toncev said the photo was taken while he was still a teenager and that he knew Petkov from his home town.

“In the 1990s [in Serbia] everybody was a major criminal. It is just one photo with him. So what?” Toncev told OCCRP/CINS.

From 2008 to 2012, Toncev served as Dacic’s adviser for European integration. At the time, Dacic hold the post of interior minister.

In 2012, Toncev was appointed as Dacic’s advisor for national security.

According the report, Dacic was warned by several diplomats about Toncev’s criminal connections before he appointed him to his staff a second time in 2012.

Toncev said he never heard this complaint, except from the then Russian ambassador Aleksandar Konuzin.

Toncev said that Russia’s opposed him because he had helped workers who were protesting against the sell-off of a Serbian company to Russian investors.

Dacic failed to respond to questions from OCCRP/CINS.

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