A recent investigation by investigative team OCCRP and NGO MANS revealed a secret Swiss account with $ 3.8 million payable to the wife of Svetozar Marović, one of the leaders of the ruling party. Interview with Vanja Ćalović, director of MANS

31/03/2015 -  Luka Zanoni

On March 9th, together with the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP), you published a report revealing the existence of a secret Swiss bank account of the family of Marović, senior official of ruling party DPS and former president of the Union of Serbia and Montenegro (2003-2006). The title of the report reads: "Svetozar Marović’s wife has hidden $ 3.8 million in Switzerland ". Can you explain what this is about and how you came into possession of these documents?We obtained the documents from the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists through our partners at OCCRP. It is a copy of the database that an IT employee of the HSBC bank made available to the French authorities. According to such data, in 2006 and 2007 the account of Svetozar Marović's wife, Đorđina, had $ 3.8 million available. Marović never declared this amount of money to the Commission for the conflict of interest, nor the acquisition of such a sum can be explained by Marović's regular income. We sent the full documentation to the High state prosecutor in the form of report, and the prosecutor requested official information from the Swiss judiciary.

It is not the first time that you investigate Marović's affairs in Montenegro... What has changed since the famous Zavala scandal , which your recent report defined as "one of the most controversial construction projects in Montenegro", to date?Eventually you managed to halt that project, which involved the construction of a new resort for the so-called luxury tourism on the Zavala peninsula, and Svetozar Marović's brother, Dragan, ended up in jail. Has something happened?

Unfortunately, nothing. Instead of ending up in the dock, Marović is a witness in that trial, which has showed very well how the judiciary does not have the slightest political will to prosecute this high official of the ruling party. We'll see if the new High State Prosecutor will behave professionally in the case of the secret account of Marović's wife.

Vanja Ćalović

Vanja Ćalović

How did Marović react to the investigation?

He neither denied nor confirmed what we wrote, but stooped to the vilest insults, while his lawyer recently said that the Marović family does not currently have an account at that bank, without saying if the account existed between 2006 and in 2007, as evidenced by the documentation of the Swiss bank.

Can this case be considered somewhat of a test of the of the High State Prosecutor's independence?

This will certainly be a big test for the new State Prosecutor. So far they have reacted very effectively, and we will closely follow their behaviour, but I'm sure this case will arouse even more interest in the European Commission, given the latter's demands for Montenegro, i.e. to demonstrate concrete results in the fight against high-level corruption.

Do you believe that the EU will react in some way?

I believe that the EU will closely follow this case and, depending on how institutions will act and behave, they will be able to get a clear assessment of the actual political will to lead the fight against high-level corruption.

Will this case have an impact on the Montenegrin political scene?

I do not think it can have a major influence on the local political scene, unless Marović decides to speak also of other officials holding secret accounts abroad. The DPS will try to publicly distance itself from this case, which has already discredited its main ideologue in the eyes of the public opinion, and even among some members of the party itself, who live on meagre wages and are certainly aware that they have been exploited as electoral cannon fodder in favour of someone else's private interests and profit.

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