Macedonian Prosecution Probes €2m Abuses at Ministries

The Special Prosecution, which is tasked with probing high-level crime, launched its two latest investigations on Wednesday, focused on alleged abuses of office at the culture and transport ministries.

In the first investigation, codenamed "Tender", prosecutors suspect high-ranking officials at the culture ministry setting up an unlawful one-million-euro tender to build part of the Museum of VMRO and Macedonian Struggle for Independence. The museum opened in 2011 and is part of the grand government-funded revamp of the capital entitled 'Skopje 2014'.

BIRN has learned that the first suspect in the case is the current Culture Minister, Elizabeta Kanceska-Milevska. Three members of the State Public Procurements Bureau are also suspects.

Deputy Special Prosecutor Fatime Fetai told a press conference that the first suspect in June 14, 2011, told a senior representative of the Macedonian construction firm Beton-Stip on the phone that the firm should work on the final construction work for the museum and that the tendering procedure would be announced later.

According to Fetai, the suspect told the Beton-Stip representative that it was all arranged so that no other company could be awarded the tender.

"The first suspect tells the witness that she had already arranged with the second suspect, the head of the public procurement commission, to award the tender to Beton-Stip after it is published, because they agreed to set such criteria which only Beton-Stip would fulfil," Fetai said.

The tendering procedure, according to the Public Procurements Bureau website, was launched in June 17, 2011, three days after the telephone conversation took place and after the firm already knew that it would win.

The museum opened in September 8,...

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