The KRIK Crime and Corruption Reporting Network has announced that documents obtained by its journalists through the international “Pandora Papers” project prove that Serbian Minister of Finance Sinisa Mali owned two dozen luxury apartments on the Bulgarian seaside.
KRIK reported late on Oct. 3 that Mali bought one of the apartments in his own name, while purchasing the other 23 via two off-shore companies from the British Virgin Islands.
In 2015, journalists from KRIK and the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) announced that Mali, then mayor of Belgrade, bought 24 luxury apartments in Bulgaria’s popular “Saint Nicholas” Complex, located on the Black Sea. The news caused public uproar due to the real estate’s total value being about five million euros, which by far exceeded Mali’s income as mayor of the Serbian capital.
At the time, Mali responded by accusing the press of lying. He admitted to buying only one flat – the one in his own name – and adamantly denied owning the two off-shore companies which purchased the remaining 23 apartments.
Now, however, the collaborative “Pandora Papers” project, led by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), has uncovered documents created by Trident Trust, an agency for founding off-shore companies of which Mali was a client, proving that Mali owned both the two Virigin Island companies and the luxury seaside apartments in Bulgaria, KRIK claims.
An island state in the Caribbean, the British Virgin Islands are a known tax-haven used by politicians, tycoons and criminals to hide their property. Owing to the country’s lack of transparency, company owners can keep their identity secret, which is exactly what happened in Mali case, KRIK has said.