Anti-Corruption Agency checking PM advisor's property

Serbia's Anti-Corruption Agency has launched an emergency inspection of reports on property owned by Ivica Tončev.

Source: Beta, Tanjug
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Tončev holds the office of national security advisor to the Serbian prime minister, Ivica Dačić.

The agency did not say on Friday on what grounds they lunched the special control, but said that they would go public with the results once it has been completed.

Media recently raised the question of Tončev's possible connections to organized crime and also about his qualifications, given the function he is performing.

Tončev currently serves as advisor to the prime minister and is also a member of the management board of Dačić's Socialist Party of Serbia (SPS).

According to findings of the Center for Investigative Journalism (CINS) of the Independent Association of Journalists of Serbia, after returning from Austria five years ago, where he managed a firm, Tončev entered into politics becoming a manager for the SPS and later representing the party in parliament.

After that, he served as adviser on European integration to Ivica Dačić in the previous government, when Dačić was interior minister and deputy prime minister.

According to the CINS article, posted in Serbian on its website and in English on the website of the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP), Tončev is a member of the board that manages the finances of the SPS - usually one of the most sensitive positions in Serbian politics.

The position is often reserved for important insiders who can effectively manage the murky world of party financing, the story adds.

Tončev was also an MP and a member of two parliamentary committees, namely, the Committee on the Diaspora and Serbs in the Region and the Committee on the Economy, Regional Development, Trade, Tourism and Energy.

The Anti-Corruption Agency asked him to resign from either parliament or from the advisor position, because holding two positions in different branches of government represented a conflict of interest. He chose to resign from parliament.

He was recently named to the prestigious post of vice president of the Red Star Belgrade football club - "a state owned club that is near bankruptcy after years of being a being plundered by political and mafia interests," said CINS.

Beta is reporting that CINS asserted that Tončev was "a business partner of Montenegrin criminal Branislav Šaranović, who was murdered in Belgrade in 2009".

The report added that it remains unclear how Tončev managed to become such an important public figure in Serbia in such a short time, and that origin of his money, the type of business he was involved in previously, and his education all remain a mystery.

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