Businessman Trifun Kostovski welcomed the move by state prosecutors to announce an investigation into four persons linked to the collapse of his Eurostandard Bank. The names of the defendants still haven’t been made public, and Kostovski likely is on the list, but he claims that officials linked to the ruling SDSM party engineered the collapse.

I believe those charged need to be made publicly known. The prosecutors kept silent for six months and it is my understanding that they were forced to announce the charges by my numerous public appeals. The investigation needs to include those outsiders who were involved, Kostovski said.

He insists that a manager he trusted to run the bank, Nikolce Petkoski, gave unsubstantiated loans to companies linked to the SDSM party, mainly from Strumica which is Prime Minister Zoran Zaev’s fief. The collapse of the bank as the debtors defaulted on the loans amounts to over 55 million EUR, which are being recouped by the state and from a solidarity fund propped up by all commercial banks.

Petkoski is accused by people who lost their deposits in the bank of giving loans to his relatives – in one case he approved 1.2 million EUR in loans to a company ran by his uncle which has only one employee, a clearly horrible credit history and didn’t pay a single rate of the loan back.

Petkoski, in his defense, claims that Kostovski knew all about the way the bank is ran. Kostovski, who used his metal trading contacts from the late stage of the communist regime to quickly amass a fortune after independence, has since been politically active as Mayor of Skopje and tried to build an image of a refined philanthropist. His political connections translated into giving the small Eurostandard Bank an exclusive contract to manage payments through the large network of Macedonian Post offices. The collapse of Eurostandard put enormous pressure on the Post Office, and Zaev promptly announced a plan to have it sold.