About ten or more years ago, a pre-war minister and post-war high-ranking profiteer remarked in passing: "He's worth at least a billion. Who? Well, Mile, you only think it's an exaggeration." He didn't mention which Mile he was referring to.
It's the end of 2022. Economist Svetlana Cenić is a guest on N1.
"Dodik is, I think, the richest person in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Foreigners have estimated his wealth, not me. I don't have that intelligence information, nor do I have my 'tentacles' everywhere. They estimated his wealth and the figure was so big that my eyes popped out. His wealth, I think, was estimated at 3.5 billion KM. That's what they say, not me", Cenić stated at the time.
If this is true, then Dodik could easily repay more than half of the total debt of Republika Srpska, which amounts to slightly over 6 billion KM or repay this year's credit claims that reach almost a billion KM. It could significantly ease the uncertain economic situation of this Bosnian-Herzegovinian entity.
The content of Milorad Dodik's official property, according to the disclosure in his asset declaration for the 2022 general elections, as published by N1, is nowhere near the rumoured figures.
Dodik reported an annual income of approximately 75,000 KM from his salary, 100,000 KM from agricultural activities, and 49,000 KM from renting out a villa in Belgrade, which he estimated to be worth 1.7 million KM. In terms of property, Dodik also declared ownership of an apartment in Laktaši (80,000 KM), a Golf 8 vehicle (50,000 KM), and shares in Banja Laktaši worth 505 KM. He has a debt of slightly over 660,000 KM. His wife's annual income is listed as 45,000 KM (from property), and her assets consist of two parcels of land (89,000 KM), commercial space (100,000 KM), and a vehicle (30,000 KM).
RUSSIAN EMBASSY AT THE ADDRESS OF THE COMPANY
In 2013, the Russian businessman Rašid Serdarov, or his company "Comsar Energy Group", was granted a concession for coal mining near the Thermal Power Plant. The contract was declared secret, just like many other things related to this company registered in Cyprus. It is an open secret that such a large deal could not have been entrusted without the consent of Milorad Dodik. New companies are being registered in Republika Srpska: "Comsar Energy Trading", "Comsar Energy Agro", "Hotel Comsar Rudo", and even "Comsar Energy Hydro". The founder of the latter is "Comsar Hydro Holding Ltd", registered in Cyprus, at the address of the Russian Embassy in that country!
In recent days, the "Hydro Power Group" has been in the spotlight. Although its indirect founder is the London-based company "Dexbridge Engineering Limited", its headquarters is at the same address as Serdarov's company "Comsar Energy Agro", and they use Comsar's official email. The Republika Srpska Power Utility, with the consent of the entity government, intends to purchase it for 200 million KM! Dodik's explanation that this is about "restoring sovereignty in the field of energy" makes sense until you look at the negative business results of a company that has no employees. Thus, the model of "profit from nothing" will be at work once again.
THE FIRST MILLIONS
For over 30 years of Dodik's active political career, much is known, as well as some of his past personal business engagements. Dodik initially had business dealings with Igokea, a furniture, mattress, and bedding manufacturing company, but without much financial success. Then came the war and a time for lucrative trade. At that time, it meant smuggling oil and cigarettes.
In April 1994, two trucks carrying cigarettes imported from Macedonia were confiscated from Dodik, and this was not the only case. He represented the company "Vrbas", which in 1994, through a Romanian firm, purchased diesel fuel worth around 4.8 million dollars. Thus, just from this contract, Dodik earned millions from selling oil to the citizens of Republika Srpska during wartime. There are reports that with this money, Dodik bought apartments in Belgrade. The legendary villa in Dedinje would come later.
SERBIA, THE CRADLE OF PROFITS
Dodik's name is not listed in official ownership shares, although he is associated with numerous companies and business dealings in Serbia. The Belgrade-based company Komgrap is an illustrative example.
Dodik's favourite business partner, the recently deceased Slobodan Stanković, owner of Integral company from Laktaši, paid 4.3 million euros in 2007 to acquire a majority stake in Komgrap, ultimately taking over business premises in the most expensive locations in Belgrade and assets in locations from Serbia to Ukraine. Estimates suggest that the value of Komgrap's real estate was several hundred million Deutsche KM. Tomislav Kostić, the former president of the union in Komgrap, heard an unknown fact during a meeting with the then-director of the Privatization Agency.
"Vladislav Cvetković was surprised. He said in front of everyone that, according to his information, the majority owner, or the boss of Komgrap, was Milorad Dodik, not 'Integral' of Slobodan Stanković, and that Dodik's name, not Stanković's, was in the papers", Kostić recounted.
The building in Novi Sad is called "Dodik's Palace" by the locals, but the official investor is "Galens Invest", one of the companies in the Galens group. And this is not the only connection with businesses or individuals from Serbia, where the damages were mostly borne by the budget of Republika Srpska, and in favour of "unknown persons." Here are a few examples of connections with Serbian tycoons Dragan Đurić and Miroslav Mišković.
During his first term as Prime Minister in 1998, Milorad Dodik approved a loan of 750,000 KM from the budget of Republika Srpska (RS) to Đurić's company "Zekstra Rent a Car" based in Zemun, Serbia (according to documents in possession of "Žurnal" newspaper). The first issue is that this is a private company from another country, the former Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and current Serbia, as "Zekstra" is registered in Zemun. "Zekstra" only returned slightly over 10% of the money. Dodik, Mišković, and Đurić were also involved in the privatization of the "Boska" department store in Banja Luka, but no privatization contract was seen, and according to available information, it was paid with money from the RS budget.
This is just one example. Bobar Bank, Robne Rezerve, Farmlend, Grand Trade, Birač, Medicinska Elektronika are just parts of a series of corruption scandals in which the media have pointed to the backstage role of Milorad Dodik.
A drastic example is the business engagement of "Lutrija RS" and the Cypriot company "Glori." The director of "Lutrija" was Dodik's godfather Mile Radišić, and the contract was actually a cover for siphoning off millions of money. Some media reported that Dodik bought a house in Cyprus, which he denied. Meanwhile, his daughter Gorica stated that she attended college in this country.
CHILDREN ARE WEALTH
Milorad Dodik is a proud father as his children have developed a multimillion-dollar business, albeit with favourable loans, budget, and parental incentives. The story of Milorad's children's businesses, Igor and Gorica, began in 2009 when the Investment and Development Bank of Republika Srpska granted a loan of three million KM to the company "Fruit Eco", co-owned by Igor Dodik, Milorad's son. At that time, Dodik was the entity's prime minister and also the president of the bank's credit committee.
The company continues to operate, and successfully at that. According to reports from Capital.ba, in 2020, the company had revenues of 1.67 million KM and a profit of 490,000 KM.
Gorica Dodik's restaurants, "Agape", mostly do not perform poorly. According to official data from the website akta.ba, in 2021, the company had revenues of 2.8 million KM and a profit of 158,000 KM. Capital portal also highlights the companies of her husband Pavle Ćorović. His companies, "Agro Destil", "KBV Datacom", and "Red Box Media", in which he is a co-owner with Renato Radišić (son of Dodik's godson Mile Radišić), had a combined turnover of 1.8 million KM in 2020 and reported a profit of around 150,000 KM, which is consistent with the previous year before the pandemic.
The company "Global Liberty" in Laktaši, owned by Gorica and Igor Dodik, has not been successful in its operations. After earning revenue of 173,000 KM and a profit of 93,000 KM in 2020, they ended up with a loss of 77,000 KM in 2012. To alleviate their loss, the institutions of Republika Srpska made efforts. "Global Liberty" received incentives of 26,889 KM from the agricultural budget and the Compensation Fund last year. The company "Fruit Eco", co-owned by Igor Dodik, also received incentives from the same sources, totalling 182,000 KM. "Agro Voće", owned by Gorica Dodik, received incentive amounts of around 102,000 KM.
Of course, the story of Igor Dodik's actual role in the Prointer company has become legendary. He and Milorad Dodik deny any connection with the ownership structure, but the fact remains that Prointer is an unrivalled tendering champion with its "consultant" (as publicly admitted by father Dodik), Igor Dodik.
WHEN THERE ARE NO RUSSIANS, THE CHINESE ARE WELCOME
A special story is Dodik's relations with Russia and local tycoons, from the privatization of the Brod Refinery to the sale of bonds of Republika Srpska. Žurnal has published several stories about it, including allegations about Dodik's properties in Russia and Serbia.
SALE OF REPUBLIKA SRPSKADodik pawned natural resources for a billion marks of credit?
As business with Russia and Russians has stagnated in recent times, Republika Srpska, read Milorad Dodik, is increasingly turning to partners from China, concluding numerous contracts for infrastructure and energy projects. The Chinese government is not very transparent when it comes to business deals, which suits the local rulers.
It is known that corruption is strictly punishable in China, but there are exceptions - it is not punishable if it is in favour of the state. Although the market in Bosnia and Herzegovina is almost negligible compared to the overall business, it can be, and is interesting to many, due to its susceptibility to corruption.
Let's also recall the construction of the Government building of Republika Srpska in Banja Luka, the RTV (Radio Television) Center, and the Banja Luka-Gradiška highway. According to the report of SIPA (State Investigation and Protection Agency), Milorad Dodik, Slobodan Stanković, and 13 other individuals are suspected of money laundering and tax evasion with property gains amounting to around 115 million KM. It should be remembered that wastebaskets and ashtrays were procured for over a thousand KM, which is a small but illustrative detail of how money was spent. Fictitious orders worth millions of KM were paid to foreign accounts.
As much as Milorad Dodik seemingly opposes it, he actually appreciates the Bosnian-Herzegovinian judiciary, as they have not brought any investigation, especially those of a financial nature, to a conclusion.
For those who missed it, this and much more can be seen in Žurnal's film "All of Dodik's Fingers - From a Smuggler in Laktaši to a Russian Tycoon".
Watch the movieALL DODIK’S FINGERS – from a Laktaši smuggler to a Russian tycoon