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Police Arrest Serbia’s Richest Man as Fraud Suspect

Serbian police arrested Miroslav Miskovic, the country’s richest man, and his son on suspicion they illegally earned more than 30 million euros ($39 million) on the sale of state road companies.

Eight other people suspected of being involved in “abuse of office, assets and properties of privatized road companies” were also arrested, RTS, the Belgrade-based state broadcaster, reported today.

Miskovic and Milo Djuraskovic, one of the 10 people arrested today, were “co-owners in privatized road companies between 2005 and 2010” and they “usurped money and property of those companies worth about 2.87 billion dinars at the time,” Serbian Special Prosecutor for Organized Crime said in a televised statement, adding that the partnership between the two began in 2005 when Miskovic’s Cyprus-based company Hemslade Trading Ltd. bought a road company in Belgrade for 23 million euros.

Miskovic, 67, the owner of closely-held Delta Holding, was twice questioned by police and the Prosecutor’s Office for Organized Crime before the arrest. His Delta Holding interests in real estate and retail and its annual sales are equivalent to about 9 percent of Serbia’s economic output in 2010.

Delta Holding’s press office, when reached by phone today, confirmed Miskovic’s arrest, saying it will issue a statement on the matter later in the day.

Miskovic will be detained for 48 hours during which prosecutors can decide on holding him for as many as 30 days, RTS said. The broadcaster also said police have stepped up security for Deputy Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic, who is also defense minister and chief coordinator in the fight against corruption.

Serbia needs to step up its fight against corruption and organized crime as part of its effort to convince the European Union that it is fit for membership talks. The government is reviewing the sale of 24 companies after criticism from the European Parliament.

To contact the reporter on this story: Gordana Filipovic in Belgrade at gfilipovic@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: James M. Gomez at jagomez@bloomberg.net

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