Red Flags Raised over Serbia’s Procurement of Official Jet

Serbia's public procurement portal has no record of any public procurement procedure for the plane and the country's Treasury administration has no information on any payment being made by any Serbian state institution to either EMS S/A, the plane's previous user, or Brazil's ItauBank Leasing, which leased the plane to EMS S/A.

Planes often change hands. Individuals, companies, and governments trade them daily. But transparency experts say the circumstances surrounding Serbia's procurement of its new official jet raise red flags.

Questions unanswered

Embraer ERJ-135BJ Legacy 600. Photo: Maximilian Härtl

The Serbian government did not respond to a Freedom of Information request filed by BIRN for the purchase contract. The offices of Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic and Prime Minister Ana Brnabic declined to answer BIRN's questions regarding the plane.

When asked detailed questions about how the plane changed hands and whether the circumstances raised suspicion of corruption, a spokesperson for EMS S/A, which is ultimately controlled by the Brazilian billionaire Carlos Sanchez, told BIRN by email: "As an institutional policy, EMS S/A does not disclose information about its commercial transactions, acquisitions, and negotiations of assets, goods, and services, in order to protect the financial and confidential data of its suppliers, customers, and partners."

The company, the spokesperson said, "also emphasizes its commitment to the enforcement of all existing laws as much as the effectiveness of the company's Code of Conduct in all its relationships."

ItauBank Leasing did not respond to questions sent by BIRN.

Transparency experts said there were many ways Serbia could have taken ownership of the plane, not all...

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