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Insajder in the making: DIPOS - SQUANDERER OF STATE MONEY

DIPOS, squanderer of state money

(Insajder.net)
(Insajder.net)

Though at first glance the operation of DIPOS seems to be related only to real-estate rental, initial investigation by Insajder.net has revealed that the DIPOS story goes much deeper. DIPOS is registered as a limited liability company owned by the state, but it operates as a private business. Its statute even reads that the firm "works for itself and its own benefit."

There have been many state decisions that allow this outfit to work with select firms, yet adequate spending oversight is not in place, so the operation of this business is in many ways singular.

The issue of what the state-owned DIPOS does shook the public mid-2015. At one point it was even one of the bigger bones of contention between Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vučić and President Tomislav Nikolić, when the state assets that DIPOS uses were slated for sale.

Without any public debate and under urgent procedure, the parliament had carried the Law on special conditions in selling state-owned real-estate, which the president of Serbia had then refused to sign. According to the explanation given at the time, the problem was a paragraph stating that current leaseholders would have the right of first purchase, which the president's legal experts deemed unconstitutional.

Then all independent institutions, non-governmental organizations and many media began to delve into who the real-estate lessees were, for days raising the question of who lives in the state villas and apartments rented out by DIPOS. The Anti-Corruption Council and the State Audit Institution also looked into the matter.

Insajder's initial research shows that this is a much larger issue than that of the identity of the lessees.

Why DIPOS is the Under Construction topic 

Though at first glance the operation of DIPOS seems to relate only to real-estate rental, initial investigation by Insajder.net has revealed that  many state decisions allow this outfit to work with select firms, but adequate spending oversight is not in place and the operation of this business is in many ways singular.

As we believe this to be a topic of great importance to the public, as of March 27 you will be able to follow it in the Insajder Under Construction category. Insajder Under Construction is a section whose purpose is to allow you to see for the first time how much time and effort it takes to make a documentary and investigative series. There have been frequent comments that information is leaked to Insajder, that it is impossible to uncover secrets so well guarded.

Now, you will be able to see from day to day how many requests based on the Law on information availability we send, what kind of responses we get, how many times we call just one collocutor on the phone... Every topic will be updated daily and everything of importance will be available on Insajder.net.

DIPOS is a company that has been in sole state ownership since 2007. It was given apartments and villas that are the property of the Republic of Serbia, worth approximately a collective EUR 70 million, to use, lease and renovate. A large portion of its business, however, is marked confidential.

Looking into the company’s statutes that were made public, we have found something absurd, namely that this company "has every authorization and acts on its own behalf and for its own benefit in legal dealings with third parties," urging the question how a state-owned company can work for its own benefit and not the benefit of the people of Serbia.

Our research has shown that this state outfit behaves in every way as a private company with no ties whatsoever to the state. This is made possible in part by a 2009 contract with the Republic Property Directorate, signed off on by the government, which states that DIPOS will lease real-estate and spend all the money collected in rent on employee salaries and what is listed as "investment in real-estate." Only what is left at the end, after all expenses, is paid into the budget.

This situation is comparable to, for instance, having a few apartments you were renting out. Then you decide to let a mediator handle the business of renting out the apartments for you. The deal you make is that the mediator gets to pick the lessees and set the prices, to collect all rent for their own benefit, to pocket the earnings and spend your money with no supervision all year long, to decide how much to pay for new furniture or a paint job. At the end of the year, the mediator gives you what money is left, though they may have spent it all.

According to Insajder's inquiries, DIPOS is a company no government wants to give up, while state decisions permit it to spend state money without any checks in place.

The reporters of Insajder.net have been looking into the subject of DIPOS for several months. We have gathered part of the documentation, per the Law on the availability of information. As of March 27, DIPOS is in the Insajder Under Construction section, and you will be able to follow the whole process of Insajder.net's investigation on this example.

You will be able to see what questions we ask the responsible institutions. We will publish our requests per the Law on availability of information and parts of the interviews we tape. DIPOS will stay in the Insajder Under Construction category until we broadcast the final Insajder episode on this company's business.

 

(Insajder.net)
(Insajder.net)

DIPOS - SQUANDERER OF STATE MONEY

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    Though at first glance the operation of DIPOS seems to be related only to real-estate rental, initial investigation by Insajder.net has revealed that the DIPOS story goes much deeper.