This investigation by the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network (BIRN) scrutinises contracts awarded to companies owned by a Serbian tycoon closely connected to the country’s ruling political elite in a strategically critical field — energy.

The Serbian energy market is being cartelised. The biggest energy company is state-owned EPS, but most of its work is subcontracted to private companies that provide services via public procurements. The biggest contracts are awarded without competitors to a coterie of firms close to the ruling party. Opportunities abound to abuse the procurement process and suck money out of state coffers.

While this is a story with deep resonance for Serbian audiences, its importance spills across borders into Montenegro and the Czech Republic, where articles will soon be published.

The team comprising Aleksandar Đorđević, Milorad Marković and Filip Brokes analysed public tender data covering the period 2010-2020.

The analysis showed that two companies significantly increased their income and appear to have secured a partnership with the state when it comes to energy infrastructure works.

The owner of the companies rose from being a local small businessman to an energy tycoon after the ruling Serbian Progressive Party came to power in 2012. He supported the party financially in elections in 2012. 

BIRN Serbia invested additional resources alongside the IJ4EU grant to allow data specialist Milorad Marković to create a user-friendly database of bids, contracts and infographics, thus providing easy access to all information in one place. 

The team is working on sequel stories based on leads gathered through research so far.

Dragoljub Zbiljić. Illustration: BIRN

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