Former Prime Minister Vlado Buckovski said that he will appear before the court and testify in the major Deutsche Telekom scandal which is finally coming to trial.
If I’m summoned, I will definitely testify, Buckovski told PressingTV.
The long dormant case started in 2011 but was re-initated by the Special Prosecutor’s Office. the defendants are three Macedonian Telekom managers – Attila Szendrei, Rolf Pla3th and Mihail Kefaloiannis from Hungary, Germany and Greece. The three are charged with an elaborate scheme to syphon money from the Macedonian Telekom which is controlled by Deutsche Telekom via Magyar Telekom, with a smaller share then owned by Greek businessman Dimitris Kontominas. According to the charges, some 7.5 million EUR were awarded in bogus consulting contracts to companies Kontominas and Kefaloiannis set up in Cyprus in 2005, and were then given to officials in the SDSM – DUI ruling coalition led by Buckovski.
In exchange, Buckovski and his coalition partner Ali Ahmeti withheld legislation from Parliament that would have opened the Macedonian telecommunications market to more competition. The Macedonian Telekom was allowed to continue operating with no serious competition for years, keeping prices artificially high, overcharging customers and delaying the development of the IT sector in the country.
The situation was reversed only in 2007, when the Nikola Gruevski led Government liberalized the market, quickly increasing the number of competitors in the mobile market to three distinct companies, which collapsed the prices and also allowed Macedonia to catch up with neighboring countries in the spread and speed of internet connections.
American invesigators from the Department of Justice and the Securities and Exchange Commission initiated a corrupt foreign practices act case against Deutsche Telekom, later followed up by civil suits against three Magyar Telekom managers, and both cases were decided in favor of the prosecution. A mirror case against Deutsche Telekom and the Montenegro Telekom, which implicated close relatives of Montenegro President Milo Gjukanovic, was later dropped by US investigators.
Intercepted emails and documents released by the New York court reveal how Greek businessmen were negotiating with SDSM and DUI officials to arrange on the amount of the bribes and the exact legislative changes Deutsche Telekom wanted from the Macedonian Government. In one intercept, it is revealed that Deutsche Telekom managers also wanted to amend the labour laws, making it easier to fire pregnant women, so they would be able to reduce their workforce. Another document mentions DUI officials Ali Ahmeti and Musa Xhaferi, listed as “our friends in Tetovo, A.A. and M.G.” while discussing the amount of bribes the DUI party, which then held the important Transportation Ministry wants to receive.
Besides Buckovski, who already testified before the SEC in Washington, defendants in the New York case asked that former President and SDSM leader Branko Crvenkovski also testifies and explains his role in the corruption case. Current Deputy Prime Minister and Defense Minister Radmila Sekerinska was also in the corrupt Buckovski administration.
A document reveals that, as Deputy Prime Minister in charge of European Affairs, Sekerinska would receive the European Union requests that Macedonia finally opens its telecommunications market for more competition. The Government ignored these requests and one document reveals that Sekerinska was among the Government officials who met with Macedonian Telekom officials on the issue. A list of SDSM and DUI members of Parliament who were approached and “lobbied” by the company is also contained in the documents published in the US.
Buckovski was not charged in the case – he was sentenced in a different corruption scandal – involving the purchase of spare parts for Macedonian army tanks, but was never imprisoned and eventually had the verdict annulled. As part of the on-going talks about the future of the Special Prosecutor’s Office, opposition leader Hristijan Mickoski requested that older corruption cases, such as the Deutsche Telekom scandal, are investigated and those involved – prosecuted.