Branko Vujovic, a long-time public official involved in many privatization affairs, has for a short time managed to fulfill the dream of every parent, for which most of Montenegrin citizens need an entire lifetime – his sons got jobs in the public administration, bought apartments and luxury cars. Vujovic himself has significantly increased his assets, in only a few years his family has spent about €250,000 on buying new real estates and vehicles. The origin of these assets cannot be explained by his known income.
In early 2013, Branko’s sons Ivan and Nikola bought two apartments and two garages in the same building in the popular City kvart in Podgorica. Vujović’s offspring paid €180 thousand for the apartments, each covering 68 square meters, on the first and second floor.
“The contracts were signed at the beginning of the construction of the housing facility, and payments are being made in installments. The funds are generated from savings, gifts and loans,” Branko Vujovic explained how his sons had gained possession of valuable real estate
It is precisely the contracts that Vujovic refers to that actually deny his explanation.
Firstly, the contracts were not signed at the beginning of the construction but two years later when the building had already been completed. This can be seen from the contracts, building permit, but also from satellite images of that part of the city. Secondly, the apartments were not paid in installments. The contracts clearly state that the two apartments and two garages were fully paid before the signing. Thirdly, the money for the apartments could not come from savings, because Vujovic did not report any savings, gifts or loans in his declaration of assets.
According to the official information, Ivan and Nikola could not have saved even a part of that sum. At the time of the purchase of the apartment, the younger Nikola did not have any official income, but he signed the contract with the Podgorica-based construction company Celebic as a twenty-year-old student of the University of Donja Gorica.
At the time, the older son Ivan was 25 years of age and after the internship at the Agency for Electronic Communications and Postal Operations (EKIP) he worked as a professional associate with a monthly salary of around €1,000. At the same time, after he got job at EKIP, Ivan bought a brand new €15,000 worth Chevrolet Cruise car. According to his father’s testimony, the son purchased that car on the basis of the loan taken from Prva Banka Crne Gore.
At the time of the purchase of the apartment, Ivan had been working only a year and a half in the EKIP, and during this period he received a payment of €19,000. It is quite clear that Ivan could not have repaid his car loan with this money and purchase an apartment and a garage in City kvart.
Also, Branko Vujovic’s declaration of assets shows that he could not have significantly helped when it comes to buying valuable real estates, which leaves the question of who gave or lent the money to the Vujovics open.
“I have answered all your questions, please do not call me anymore” replied Vujovic, the father, to the repeated journalists’ question as to how his sons got €180,000 for buying the real estates.
Vujovic’s youngest son Nikola was neither in the mood to reveal who had lent or donated the money for the apartment and garage in City kvart. Instead, the Ministry of Economy’s PR, where the youngest Vujovic currently works as a state secretary, responded that it did not have the requested information as well as that Vujovic jad fulfilled the obligation prescribed by law and provided the data on his assets.
“The responses provided by the Ministry of Economy suffice,” Nikola briefly commented in a telephone conversation.
By the time this article was finished, Nikola Vujovic’s older brother, Ivan, did not give answers to the questions concerning the origin of the money spent on buying the valuable real estates.
Saving up for gold Toyota
The apartments are not the only assets the Vujovics bought with the money of unclear origin. In 2012, Branko Vujovic bought Toyota SUV worth €25,000. The invoices owned by the MANS Investigation Center show that the new metallic gold Toyota was purchased in the Efel Motors and paid in cash.
“I bought the car from my own savings from the year in question and previous years,” Vujovic replied to the question where he got the money for the luxury SUV.
Vujovic was not specific about the years of his savings, but his declaration of assets shows that in the period from 2005 until the purchase of the vehicle he did not officially declare any savings of any member of the family.
The luxury car was bought at the beginning of May 2012, after Branko received the fourth salary for that year, as the manager of the Insurance Supervision Agency, which means he had a little less than €10,000 for the purchase of the car. A simple calculation shows that even if they saved the full monthly income for the first four months of that year and did not spend anything on food and other needs, the Vujovics would still need around €15,000 for buying the luxury vehicle.
Apartment in Maxim
In early 2005, Vujovic bought an apartment in the luxurious building Maxim in Podgorica. The apartment of 106 square meters on the prestigious location preko Morace, was paid around €127,000.
“The apartment was purchased from the funds allocated in accordance with the decision of the managing board of the Agency for Economic Restructuring and Foreign Investments for solving housing problems 80 percent, and 20 percent from personal funds. The personal funds are provided from the previous years’ income,” replied Vujovic, who, at the time, was the director of the Agency.
If these allegations are true, the state participated with €100,000 in the purchase of the apartment, while the remaining €25,000 was paid by the Vujovic family from their income. According to official data, during this period, the total annual income of the Vujovics was under €15,000, they did not have any savings nor did they take out any loans.
Therefore it is not clear which funds Vujovic used for buying the apartment, because he needed at least €10,000, provided that they did not spend any money on living expenses or even food during the year in question. Two years later, Vujovic bought a garage for €8,000 in the same building.
New offices, new vehicles
In the meantime, Vujovic’s sons have been promoted in the civil service. Currently Ivan is a Senior Advisor to EKIP, whereas Nikola, after completing his studies and being engaged as the chairman of the Electricity Stock Exchange, has been recently elected State Secretary at the Ministry of Economy.
According to the documentation available at the MANS Investigation Center, they now own more luxurious cars. Ivan has an Audi A6 four years old, with the market price of around €20,000, and Nikola drives a BMW X3 from 2008, which is currently worth around €10,000. Precise information on the value of the vehicles could not be obtained because the Ministry of Interior refused to deliver the invoices and purchase contracts concluded by the Vujovics.