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Serbia’s Richest Man Miskovic Faces Probe Over Acquisitions

Serbia’s richest man Miroslav Miskovic faces a probe over his business as the government is reviewing the sale of 24 companies after criticism from the European Parliament.

Miskovic, 67, the owner of closely held Delta Holding, will be questioned by the police and the Prosecutor’s Office for Organized Crime, Justice Minister Nikola Selakovic told B92 broadcaster in Belgrade today. Delta Holding has interests in real estate and retail and its annual sales are equivalent to about 9 percent of Serbia’s economic output in 2010.

“This is just the first in a series of interrogations,” Selakovic said, adding that the initial questioning will focus on Miskovic’s land-buying business and possibly will expand to his acquisition of food retailer C market in 2005 and involvement in a road-building company.

Prime Minister Ivica Dacic’s Cabinet, in office since July 27, wants to step up its fight against corruption in an effort to win a date to start European Union accession talks by March 2013. Serbia became an EU candidate in March and the date for entry talks is conditional on normalizing ties with Kosovo, its former province that unilaterally declared independence in 2008.

The European Parliament adopted a resolution on Serbia’s EU integration process in March, calling on the Serbian authorities “to review immediately the controversial privatization and sale of 24 companies,” as the European Commission has expressed serious doubts concerning their legality. The list of controversial privatizations includes the sale of steelworks Sartid AD to U.S. Steel Corp. and the sale of Mobtel mobile phone operator to Telenor ASA in 2006.

Miskovic entered the Forbes list of billionaires in 2007 and has been ranked among the wealthiest people in eastern Europe. His wealth was estimated at $2.8 billion in 2010 by Forbes and Polish magazine Wprost.

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