Interim Deputy Finance Minister Gordana Dimitrieska Kocoska said that she is closely following the latest reports about massive corruption and fraud involving the TE-TO gas fired energy plant in Skopje, owned by Russian oligarch Leonid Lebedev.

The company, that provides much of Skopje’s central heating as well as producing electricity, is suspected of a fradulent bankruptcy which was used to write off its debt toward toward the Toplifikacija company, as well as the income tax that it owed. According to the reports, published by the Lider news site, the Russian – Cypriot owned TE-TO plant was also supposed to pay 28 million EUR to its co-owner Toplifikacija company, but the fake bankruptcy, which lasted less than one day, allowed it to get out of these large financial obligations.

We are following this case of providing state financial aid to TE-TO closely. There are indications of crimes and abuse of office. Toplifikacija provided documents that point to irregularities in the way TE-TO was helped by the state. Shareholders of Toplifikacija were harmed by the actions, said Dimitrieska, who put the write-off of income tax TE-TO owed at 16 million EUR.

Dimitrieska said that she provided all evidence to the Interior Ministry, so that an appropriate further investigation could be conducted.

TE-TO is already under a financial investigation for likely abuse of office, false bankruptcy and money laundering. Its income was portrayed as not real and this was used to justify the tax write off. This obligation matured in March 2019, but the tax authority did not act to collect the tax. The decision to provide this write off to the company was not published in the Official Gazette. The Government had a legal option to negotiate a delay in the payment, but chose not to do so, Dimitrieska said.

The TE-TO plant sold the electricity it produced through EDS, a company set up by Koco Angusev, who was Deputy Prime Minister when the Government wrote off the income tax that TE-TO owed.

TE-TO responded with a press release calling the allegations of fraud and money laundering against it a lie prepared by the Toplifikacija company. TE-TO insisted that Toplifikacija managers were fully aware of how the gas plant operates and approved of it.

The allegations of money laundering were analyzed by state prosecutors and rejected as unfounded, whic his known to Toplifikacija manager Dimitar Hadzi Misev. Our company is an investor in the Landesbank Berlin, is part of the Sparkasse group and all our deals are under bank oversight. Our tolling contract to exchange gas for electricity provided benefits to our company but was not enough to allow us to turn profit. We had to adapt to the market conditions given that there is only one gas supplier in Macedonia and we constantly asked for opening of the market through and more suppliers through the link with Bulgaria, TE-TO said.

TE-TO claims that its 2018 income report of 120 million EUR in revenue, which it had to pay a large income tax for, was due to an administrative move that wrote off TE-TO’s obligations toward Toplifikacija, and this is the reason why the company asked that its tax obligation is written off.