It doesn’t happen often in the Balkans that a piece of good investigative journalism inspires prosecutors to have an even a closer look.

Earlier this week Serbian prosecutors ordered criminal police investigators to interview Dragan Tomic, a former CEO of the Kolubara coal mine, after a program on B92 TV claimed Tomic and other directors of the company enabled a number of private firms and individuals to profit unjustifiably and rather enormously from their work as Kolubara’s contractors. The influential Insajder show, which often features high quality investigative probes into corruption and war crimes, told a story of years of abuse in Kolubara, a key state-owned firm whose coal powers much of Serbia’s grid.

Among other things, Isajder alleged that Kolubara’s directors persistently hired private contractors to carry out work with heavy machinery, even though experts claimed Kolubara has enough of its own capacity to carry out such work. The contractors were said to have received astronomic fees for their work. Family members of a junior partner in the governing coalition and individuals close to former government officials are among those alleged to have benefited from the practice.  

Insajder also presented documents suggesting that Kolubara bosses fiddled with paperwork. The documents, for example, showed that one machine was operated by the same man around the clock and without a break for several days, with a corresponding fee paid out.

Tihomir Loza

Tihomir Loza is deputy director of Transitions Online. Email: tihomir.loza@tol.org

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