Brano Micunovic, a businessman from Niksic, had a privileged position in business with the Public Enterprise Coastal Zone Management (JPMD) for years, as evidenced by extensive documentation that came into possession of MANS Investigation Center. Tolerating illegal construction and devastation of the underwater, impairment and complete abolition of rent, the lease of state property without a public tender, are only a part of the “services” that Brano Micunovic was provided by state institutions, primarily JPMD. MANS reveals that with the adoption of seemingly legitimate decisions, managers of JPMD favored the businessmen from Niksic at the expense of public interest.
In April 2002, after completion of the tender, JPMD entered into a lease agreement for the port of Budva with the Slovenian Elektrovin Company, i.e. its subsidiaries ER.-VE. Montemarina from Podgorica.
The agreement was concluded for a period of 15 years, and apart from all the berths and the coast line along the marina, the Slovenes were leased waters in Budva, the precise area of which were not specified in the agreement. The annual rent was slightly more than €25,000 for each of the 15 years of the agreement. The Slovenian company committed to certain investments in the port of Budva, but the projected value of those investments was not even specified in the agreement. The agreement was signed by the then director of JPMD Dragan Ivancevic.
As early as the end of the following year, ER.-VE. Montemarina and its agreement with JPMD was taken over by a Budva based company “MC Marina”. The founder of the company was another Budva-based company, “Anagusta”, founded by an off-shore company of the same name from Cyprus, founded by the businessman Brano Micunovic. That was stated in Annex 1 of the agreement and it was only the first of a total of 14 annexes which have been concluded to date.
„Preliminary approval“ for construction works
At the end of 2010, the Ministry of Transport issued MC Marina preliminary approval for the reconstruction of the breakwater, which was a condition for obtaining a building permit to perform the mentioned works. Not only it is unusual that the Ministry issued such a “preliminary approval”, but it is interesting that the Ministry did not withdraw it when they learned that MC Marina was performing works without a building permit. In addition to this approval, the Ministry enabled MC Marina to dispose of the materials excavated during the reconstruction of the breakwater in the maritime zone without prior analysis of the impact that such an activity might have on the environment.
The first annex completely exempted the Brano Micunovic’s company from paying rent for 2002. The reasoning of that decision states that MC Marina covered the costs of the public toilet reconstruction in the total amount of €15,000, while the remaining ten thousand was written off on the basis of “costs that could not be estimated at the time of the conclusion of the agreement,” without specifying what the particular costs were. This annex with representatives of MC Marina was signed by Dragan Ivancevic.
The following year, 2004, Annex 2 to the agreement was concluded and it reduced the main annual rent by 20%, without any explanation. This annex was signed by the then new director of JPMD, Rajko Barovic. The basic lease agreement does not contain any provision that would allow the reduction of the annual fee, unless the tenant was in somehow prevented from using the port. Barovic made another three annexes with the Micunovic’s company in the years to follow. Those annexes defined that the annual fee of €25,000 be paid in installments.
In mid-2007, MC Marina sent JPMD a request for extension of the lease agreement to additional 10 years from the expiry of the current contract in 2017. In addition, MC Marina asked JPMD for permission to use the lease agreement as a pledge for taking a loan with Hypo Alpe Adria Bank.
JPMD destroyed evidence of business with Micunovic
At the end of 2015, MANS was investigating the business of the Port of Budva, specifically inquiring how if Brano Micunovic’s company paid their dues to JPMD on time. In the response we received from this public company, it is stated that the complete financial documentation relating to the operations of MC Marina, including the evidence of payment of the annual rent, was destroyed in accordance with an internal decision of JPMD.
The Board of Directors of JPMD accepted the both of these requests, provided that investments in the Port of Budva in the amount of €700,000 euros were carried out in the course of the following three years. The decision was signed by the then President of the Board of JPMD, Aleksandar Ticic.
This decision was further formalized with a new annex, which specified that the basic agreement was extended until 2027, as long as MC Marina realized the promised investment. In this way, the company belonging to Brano Micunovic was given the opportunity to extend the lease without a tender, but also to pledge the agreement to obtain a loan from the bank.
The new annex in 2008 finally defined the area of the sea, which was the subject of the 2002 agreement, at 53,000 m2, which was the interior of the port. In addition, this Annex gave MC MARINA, temporarily, until the end of 2008, extra space in the territorial waters and the coast, again without a publicly announced tender. Accordingly, the annual fee was increased to around €36,000.
After that, with additional annexes, JPMD “temporarily ceded” this space several times until 2014. That year, another annex was signed and it lowered the fee for the lease of the Port of Budva to around €30,000, again without an explanation. In this way, JPMD avoided the legal obligation to issue public tenders the entire six years and signed annexes to cede the space to Micunovic’s company.
Meanwhile, MC Marina started works on the Port of Budva, without the necessary permits and licenses, as it would turn out. MANS came into possession of a few minutes of the inspection controls, which were conducted in 2010 and 2011, and in which it is stated that MC Marina had illegally performed works on the rehabilitation of the breakwater by disposing of rocks at the sea. The minutes also stated that the works were executed in spite of the restrictions and the lack of building permits, and the company had a permission for construction works issued by the Ministry of Transport, through the Port Authority of Bar.
Marina – connection between the families of Brano Micunovic and Svetozar Marovic
Longtime CEO of MC Marina Budva, which managed the Port of Budva, was Nebojsa Colan from Budva. He was at the same time the authorized representative of several companies owned by Milos Marovic – El Mar and Motonautica. Along with Bozidar Pima, Colan founded the construction company MNB Invest. Pima was the Executive Director of “Smart It”, a third company owned by the younger Marovic.
However, there is no evidence that Micunovic’s company was in any way prevented or sanctioned because of continuous violations of the law. Construction without building permits is a criminal offense since 2008, but there is no information that anyone from JPMD, the Ministry of Transport or the relevant inspection informed the prosecution that MC Marina had committed the mentioned criminal offense. It is also not clear why the Coastal Zone Management insisted on extending the agreement, even though they were aware of the fact that MC Marina was violating the regulations and performing works on the rented property without the building permit.
In addition, it is not known on what basis the heads of the Coastal Zone Management let MC Marina use “temporarily” parts of the coast and the waters that were not an integral part of the basic agreement for entire six years, without a tender or a public announcement.
The Port of Budva is currently managed by the company Stratex Development, which bought MC Marina from Micunovic for €900,000 in 2014. The following year, the last, 14th annex was concluded. Again, it temporarily ceded waters of the Port, and the annual fee increased to €41,000. Stratex Development rose to prominence when, after the failure of the project Astra Montenegro, took over the management of the condo complex on Zavala.
Appraisers evaluated illegal works too
The condition for the extension of the lease agreement until 2027 was an investment of at least €700,000. In early 2012, an assessment was made of the market value of the investments in the Port of Budva by MC Marina Budva. The results of the appraisers Natasa Gacevic and Zoran Senic included those works that would later be found illegal, carried out without permits and despite the explicit prohibition of the inspection. Such works, according to the report, were €25.1 million worth.
MANS Investigation Center