Lighting Companies with Political Ties Win More Serbian Contracts

A group of companies that has signed most recent contracts to refurbish street lighting in Serbia with LED lighting - whose close links to the Hungarian and Serbian authorities was the subject of a BIRN investigation in June - has won three more contracts worth over 8 million euros.

So far, the group, which includes U Light, Smart Energy Investment and Keep Light, has signed 17 contracts in total, worth over 33 million euros.

It signed three new Public-Private Partnership with the Serbian municipalities of Kovacica, Stara Pazova and Svilajnac over April and June this year.

The 8-million-euros contract includes replacing 8,328 street lamps in Stara Pazova at a cost 5.4 million euros.

That makes it the second biggest such job after the refurbishment of the street lighting in Krusevac, in central Serbia, where 12,545 lamps were replaced for 6.7 million euros. The group won this lucrative contract in a tender against no other bidders.

A joint investigation by BIRN and Direct36, published in June this year, revealed that the companies are connected to businesspeople with close ties to Hungarian leader Viktor Orban and to Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabic and President Aleksandar Vucic.

They include Balint Erdei, a friend and former business partner of Orban's son-in-law, Istvan Tiborcz, as well as Radovan Djumic, whose Keep Light company has prospered thanks to the contracts it is winning.

Other key figures are Dragoljub Zbiljic and Nenad Kovac, businessmen with links to Serbia's ruling Progressive Party, and Mark Crandall, a Belgrade-based US businessman who was Brnabic's boss when she was director of the Serbian branch of his wind-farm firm Continental Winds.
An investigation in 2015 by the European Union's anti...

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