Due to cooperation with the Belarusian regime, the US State Department supposedly decided to take a closer look at the Forum 21 businessman Janez Škrabec. In the “worst-case” scenario, the director and co-owner of Riko might even get his property confiscated.
The Serbian media outlet Objektiv writes that brothers Bogoljub and Dragomir Karić have come under the scrutiny of the US State Department. The Karić brothers are two rich Serbian tycoons who have worked closely with Slobodan Milošević’s regime in the past (which is also how they gained their property). Now, they are involved in the real estate project Minsk World in Belarus, which is one of the many projects that the international experts and observers suspect to actually be a front for money laundering.
The Karić brothers got the deal through their Cyprus company Dana Holdings, which owns the company Dana Astra in Belarus, where the wife of the Belarus dictator Alexander Lukashenko also worked for 13 years. The market value of the Karić brothers’ project exceeds 13 billion US dollars. A large part of this sum is expected to end up in the pockets of the Lukashenko family.
According to Radio Free Europe, Dragomir Karić rejected the claims that he and his brother were receiving preferential treatment in Belarus. According to Karić, the competitors want to tarnish their reputation and thus also hurt their company. Belarusian businessman and politician of the opposition, Valerij Cepkalo, believes that this is not actually the case. The fact that the Karić brothers obtained certain business deals on the basis of Lukashenko’s presidential decree proves that there was definitely preferential treatment involved.
Will Škabec also have to face certain sanctions?
It is interesting that Belarus, which has been under the rule of Alexander Lukashenko for almost 30 years now, has appointed Dragomir Karić as the Honorary Consul of Belarus in Serbia. Janez Škrabec is also an Honorary Consul for Belarus – in Slovenia, and despite the call of the Belarusian people, he has not (yet) returned this honorary position. And just like the Karić family, Škrabec is on friendly terms with Lukashenko.
The European Union already imposed sanctions on the Karić brothers in December last year. It accused Dana Holdings of supporting the Lukashenko regime. The State Department is also considering imposing certain sanctions but will extend them to more tycoons because they are collaborating with a corrupt regime that violates human rights.
On the 24th of March, the U.S. Republican Chris Smith of New Jersey called on the Treasury Department to consider imposing sanctions on several tycoons under the Global Magnitsky Act. This document is used against people who are charged with serious acts of corruption and human rights violations. Smith once again called on the Biden administration to impose sanctions after the Belarusian authorities diverted a flight from Athens to Vilnius to Minsk airport on the 23rd of May and arrested an opposition blogger and his girlfriend. It is quite possible that Janez Škrabec, who once said that the former head of the Communist Party, Milan Kučan, is a “legend” and that he feeds on his thoughts, has also been added to the list of people against whom the USA will impose sanctions.