State-affiliated company offers to privatize Serbian national waters authority

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Source: N1

A company alleged to be closely linked to the Serbian authorities has offered to join in the privatization of the leading national waters authority which experts have warned could allow projects that would pollute large areas of the country to go ahead.

The Millenium Team company offer to the management of the Jaroslav Cerni Water Institute was to form a consortium for the announced privatization, the Beta news agency reported adding that the institute management accepted the offer which includes the top managers being in the consortium and private individuals holding 30 percent of the consortium shares.

The Institute, majority owned by the Republic of Serbia, is the leading scientific research organization in Serbia and the region. Its approval is required for projects which could jeopardize waters anywhere in Serbia, including projects such as Rio Tinto’s Jadar lithium mine and the construction of the Belgrade metro both of which are still in planning stages. Experts have warned that both projects could cause pollution and jeopardize drinking water supplies.

Millenium Team is a company owned by businessmen alleged to be close to the Serbian authorities and has been awarded a number of lucrative contracts by the government. The company was reported to have provided at least one luxury car and an apartment to the brother of Finance Minister Sinisa Mali.

Beta said that the offers to buy 92 percent of the shares of the Institute are due to opened by the Ministry of the Economy on Monday. The Institute’s value has been estimated at 2.8 million Euro with the starting price for 92 percent of its shares set at 2.58 million.

The Institute CEO and six executive directors informed staff that Millenium Team intends to invest in development and new projects. A statement said that they expect the Institute to continue all of its activities and maintain its key role as an expert institution.