Web portals in the off-shore claws of the Macedonian government-oriented tycoons

Web portals in the off-shore claws of the Macedonian government-oriented tycoons
The problems are almost identical and repeated through the years in all reports of the international organizations when it comes to the free media situation in Macedonia. The government is the greatest advertiser, the advertisements of the government serve as bribe and media control, the ownership is never clear, the public service is biased, the social rights of the journalists are miserable, the censorship and self-censorship are widely spread, while the criticizing journalists are considered as aim for attacks by the government-oriented media, yet also aim for direct attacks from the officials, and even the Prime Minister himself.
But, this story is not about complaints. It is a story about secrets, money and power and all that hidden behind your computer monitors. 
2011 was one of the darkest years in the history of the media in the country. Many media were closed, while the journalists’ community has suffered the greatest strike when in July 2011 the government closed the biggest and most frequently watched A1 television, television considered criticizing in its operations. The owner of the media ended up in jail, and his trial was noted by the European Union as selective trial. As soon as the first independent television, A1, was closed, the newspapers Vreme, Koha e Re and Spic, all belonging to the same owner, were closed as well. About 800 journalists and media workers ended up in the streets, jobless. SincSoon, the newspapers “Forum”, “Graganski vesnik” (“Civil society newspaper”), “Globus”, “Den” (“Day”), closed. Journalists, considered criticizing by the other media, were being fired, while also the media were being sold and out of the blue they changed their editing policy turning towards the government. The traditional media are labelled as “occupied” by the government’s influence, whereas many of the journalists were left without their jobs and had no choice but “shine” over the internet.
“Quite limited number of independent media are active and share different opinions with no restrictions, especially over the internet,” concluded the USA State Department in their last human rights report for 2013.
“The Government is the greatest advertiser in the country and favours the media and journalists it considers to be its friends”, says the report of the State Department. 
The web portals that are considered criticizing are in the greatest part in ownership of journalists-former employees in some of the closed media or even, journalists fired from the other media.
But, the criticizing media are not the only ones present on the internet. In the past two years many web portals with ambiguous ownership and editorship were opened. Among the government promoting contents, lists of the so-called traitors, non-patriots, mercenaries of Soros, spies and gay journalists are being composed on regular basis in order to discredit the journalists being identified by the government as enemies. If one of the web portals publishes a text like this, it is immediately published by all other web portals, and then in the newspapers and the night editions of the TV news. Thus the news for the alleged treasons or gay orientations of the government’s critics, even for the athletes that did not play well or decided to leave the national team, are spread like a lava in the media. 
On the other side, the analysis show that the traditional media even beside the fact that they actually have the greatest amount of money in their hands, they are not the only ones with powerful influence. The last research of the Broadcasting Council (now Agency for Audio and Audiovisual Media Services) dated 15th April 2013, shows that 44% of the Macedonian citizens on daily basis or almost every day get their information from the internet.
In this research we wanted to trace the actual owners of the internet media and their connection to the center of power – the government and the business. Some of the traces lead us to the state officials, other to the tax havens, and third to the business forces whose imperia increases thanks to their access to the state tenders.
The photo below shows the map of the state Belize. Some have heard about Belize, and for those who have not heard about it, it is a small country in Central America on the Caribbean Sea and a single country on this continent where the English language is the official language. Belize is a country of contrasts – on one side you can see mesmerizing beauty and true small paradise. The rich local population, among which those from the rich west countries live in this part.
This is Belize for tourists. Below you can see the photo of completely another Belize, with poverty rate of 41,7%, in accordance with the official UN data.
But there is another, third Belize – Belize that keeps the secrets of the businessmen from all around the world. 
Sure you will ask, what is it that connects Belize and Macedonia or what is even stranger, Belize and the Macedonian media, considering the fact that very few Macedonians have thousands of euros for a holiday that would include experiencing the beauties of this Caribbean country. Ironic, but the connection is money.
If you have a look at the statistics prepared by the National Bank of Macedonia, since 2011 in the country there have been incomes and outcomes as direct investments from Belize in Macedonia and vice versa, investments from Macedonia in Belize. Surely, these are not the investments for which the government is posing on the photos and boasting. These are transactions with a country considered a tax haven. For the uninformed, the countries like Belize, Bermuda, Seychelles, Panama and alike are called off-shore destinations or countries where the ownership and the bank operations are a secret, legalized by the law.
On January 11, 2014, the web poratal “Repubilka” (“Republic”) celebrated its first birthday, and before it turned 12 months of its existence in December 2013, the web-site won the award “Site of the Year” awarded under the patronage of the administration of the City of Skopje. The company backing up the web portal “Republika” is called “Prva Republika dooel Skopje” (“First Republic Ltd Skopje) with address in the centre of Skopje, established August 2012.
The real owner of the media cannot be traced. According the documents from the Central Registry of the Republic of Macedonia, owner of “Prva Republika dooel Skopje” and thus of the web portal “Republika” is a company with foreign capital, i.e. a company originating from Belize, a country located in the north-eastern part of Central America, on the Caribbean Sea.
The company from Belize is “Iresine limited” and is located in the capital city of this country, Belize City, at 1 ½ Miles Northern Highway Str. Our internet research shows that a few so-called agents for off-shore services are registered on the same address in Belize, most famous agent among them being the company “Frontier international” presented also on the web-site “China off-shore” (www.chinaoffshore.com.hk) as a company for registration of off-shore entities. 
Even the General Director of “Prva Republika”, Done Donevski, and the Marketing Director Stojan Georgievski don’t reveal who is the real owner of the web portal “Republika”.
Donevski did not respond to our invitation which we have already sent him several times through the secretary of “Republika”, while we have reached Georgievski on his mobile but he refused to talk to us about the ownership of the media. 
We have sent him an e-mail with questions he did not answer, although in accordance with the service we used (ReadNotify.com) we know that he has received the e-mail and read it. The real owners, according to our inside information are not even known among the employees in the web portal “Republika”. The management presents them to the employees as “they” or “the people”.
“We have asked several times, and some of us are also even afraid to ask. We always get the same answer”, says a journalist from the editorial staff who wanted to remain anonymous in fear of losing her job.
Searching for the owner of “Republika” from Belize we reached yet another company investing in Macedonia and originating from Belize City and located at the identical address with the company backing up the media.
“Baziki limited” is also located at 1 ½ Miles Northern Highway Str., while in the documents from the Central Register of the Republic of Macedonia dated 31 October 2011, it says that this company was a partner in the Company for Trade and Services “Iskra MM DOO Skopje”.
The same document says that the second owner of “Iskra MM DOO Skopje” is Cvetan Pandeleski from Ohrid, father of Dejan Pandeleski – godchild of the Minister of Transport and Communications, Mile Janakieski.
Janakieski is more than seven years now leading the Ministry of Transport and Communications as VMRO-DPMNE personnel under the leadership of the Prime Minister, Nikola Gruevski.
The third owner of “Iskra MM DOO Skopje” was the company “Eksiko DOOEL Skopje”, in ownership of the company “T&MJ Investment SA” from Lugano, Switzerland. The Swiss company “T&MJ Investment SA” may be connected to the business tycoon Jordan Kamcev, you will read about this in the remaining part of the text. Kamcev is considered by the public as close friend with the Director of the Directorate for Security and Counter-Intelligence, Saso Mijalkov.
Mijalkov is member of the Executive Committee of the governing party VMRO-DPMNE, and a cousin of the Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski (Mijalkov’s father and Gruevski’s mother are brother and sister).
Although they have had a chance to explain in the public who is the real owner of the second company from Belize, located on the same address as the company-owner of the web portal and the weekly newspaper “Republika”, Dejan Pandeleski and Kamchev didn’t do so. 
The company “Prva Republika DOOEL Skopje” cooperates with two companies where one of the owners or major shareholder is who else but Jordan Kamcev.
Bank deponent of “Prva Republika DOOEL Skopje” is “Stopanska banka AD Bitola” where one of the major shareholders is “Orka Holding AD Skopje” of Jordan Kamcev (through the shares that “Orka Holding AD Skopje” has in the Agriculture combine “Pelagonija”).
The weekly newspaper “Republika” is printed in “Graficki centar DOO Skopje” press, where one of the three owners is again Jordan Kamcev’s “Orka Holding AD”.
Although apparently new on the market, the weekly newspaper Republika as well as the newspaper Republika, have already found their place on the market among the state institutions. The data we have obtained, applying the Law on Free Access to Information, the majority of institutions purchase Republika. The same cannot be said for the weekly newspaper “Fokus”, a newspaper that exists two decades, but is labelled as criticizing towards the work of the government. The same applies to the advertisements of the state institutions and the government. In one issue of the newspaper there were 8 pages state advertisements. The institutions are regularly advertising on their web-site as well.
Kamcev is also one of the owners of the web portal “Telegraf MK”, the youngest media in the group known as Media Print Makedonija, including the daily printed issues of “Dnevnik”, “Utrinski vesnik”, “Vest” and “Tea Moderna”.
The web portal “Telegraf MK” started in June 2013, the owner being “Media Print Makedonija DOOEL Skopje (MPM) with capital of one million and 941.864 euros. 
“Media Print Makedonija” is a company 100% owned by “Graficki centar DOO Skopje”. The second company has three owners, each of them with equal investment of million and 714.251 euros. The first third of “Graficki centar DOO Skopje” is owned by “Orka Holding AD Skopje” of Jordan Kamcev, while the second third is owned by the company “Mireks plus DOOEL Skopje”, in ownership of Srgan Kerim, former General Manager of MPM at the time when MPM was in ownership of the German media concern WAZ.
Srgan Kerim is now being mentioned as possible presidential candidate for the elections in Macedonia, proposed by the governing VMRO-DPMNE.
Kerim was ambassador of Macedonia in the Federal Republic of Germany in the period between 1994-2000, when he became Minister of Foreign Affairs in the first government of VMRO-DPMNE led by Ljubco Georgievski, in which government the current Prime Minister Gruevski was appointed Minister of Finances.
From September 2007 to September 2008 Kerim was also President of the United Nations General Assembly. He never hid his friendship with the director of the Directorate for Security and Counter-Intelligence (UBK) within the MOI, Saso Mijalkov, who is cousin with the Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski.
Kerim in his interview for the Macedonian weekly newspaper “Fokus” on 23 February 2010 stated “it is correct that I am friends with Mijalkov. Why shouldn’t we be, we were friends even before he took the office”.
The research published in the book of the journalist Saso Ordanoski “Zarobena demokratija (2012)” (“Trapped Democracy (2012)”) paints the picture of the increase of the party’s and government’s advertisements in the newspaper “Dnevnik” (part of “Media print Makedonija” where Kerim was General Manager) after VMRO-DPMNE took over following the elections on 5 July 2006.
If in 2005 “Dnevnik” published 82 state and 63 party advertisements on whole pages, in 2008, 24 months after VMRO-DPMNE took over, this newspaper had 599 state and 114 party advertisements.
Through the following years the number of state advertisements decreases but is still double or more than double times higher than the one in 2005. It is interesting to compare how many party announcements have been published in “Dnevnik” during the same period of six years. If VMRO-DPMNE had a total of 633 advertisements, the opposing party SDSM was left with 75.
Also, picturesque is the example with the early parliamentary elections in 2011 when the governing party VMRO-DPMNE published 200 advertisements in this newspaper, and the opposing SDSM only five.
The last third of “Graficki centar DOO Skopje” and therefore of the web portal “Telegraf MK” is in the ownership of the Serbian company “Internet group DOO” with its official owner Srecko Mijodragovik, but in the public this company was presented as company in ownership of the Serbian business tycoon Veselin Jevrosimovik, owner of the computer company “Comtrade group”. Jevrosimovik in the public in Serbia is known as the Serbian Bill Gates. Mijodragovik on the other hand, according to the web-site “Comtrade group” is Jevrosimovik’s advisor.
It was “Comtrade group” that in 2009 won a tender of the Macedonian Ministry of Information Technology in the amount of 1,17 million euros, through which the Serbian company sold the Macedonian government 55.000 computers for the school children up to the third grade and for the teaching staff in the primary schools.
Jevrosimovik is considered as being close to the Macedonian businessman Zarko Lukovski, which has by now never been contested by Lukovski, although published in the daily “Fokus” on September 4, 2012.
The daily and weekly “Fokus” wrote that Lukovski during the nineties was business partner of Jevrosimovik in Skopje, since Lukovski had a company named “Comtrade”.
Lukovski is now Chief Executive Officer of “T-Mobile Macedonia”, a company which is part of “T-Home” which sells computers from Jevrosimovik’s company “Comtrade” or briefly “CT computers”. Republic of Macedonia is owner of one third of the shares in the Macedonian “T-Home”, where Lukovski has been assigned a President upon a proposal from the Government of VMRO-DPMNE.
Lukovski is also a close friend of the director of the Directorate for Counter-Intelligence, Saso Mijalkov and cousin of the Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski.
Veselin Jevrosimovik also brought Alfa TV, television from Skopje, from the businessman Sterjo Nakov who is considered an oligarch close to the current opposing party. Immediately after the change in the ownership structure, Alfa changed the editing policy and is now among the government-oriented media.
There is also interesting data for the Managing Director of “Telegraf MK” Goran Manov. At the same time he is Managing Director of “Hotel Ibis” which is currently being built in the very centre of Skopje, in the immediate vicinity of the city square. 
Owners of “Hotel Ibis” are the company “Orka Holding AD Skopje” (of Jordan Kamcev) and the company “Eksiko DOOEL Skopje”, which has Swiss capital from the company “T&MJ Investments SA Lugano”. We referred to this company earlier in this text as partner of Cvetan Pandeleski and the company from Belize, “Baziki limited” in the company “Iskra MM DOO Skopje”.
The company “Media Print Makedonija” which is direct owner of “Telegraf MK”, in 2013 during the local elections donated to the coalition of the governing VMRO-DPMNE more than 250.000, thus officially becoming the greatest donator of the governing party at those elections.
What is interesting with regard to MPM is that their donation is almost one hundred times higher than the profit of the company. The documents that have reached the team of Media Pedia show that the company gained income of about 13 million euros in 2012, and reported profit of only 200.000 denars, or hardly 4 thousand euros. Even beside this low profit, MPM has decided to be generous in its donation to the governing party. In terms of the law everything is legal, since in accordance with the Macedonian laws one company is allowed to donate 10% of its income. But when you consider the simple business logic you come up with the question – who donates money that is almost 100 times more than the profit it makes.
The name of the General Director of “T-Mobile” Zarko Lukovski is also in the scheme of the ownership of the web portal “Netpress”.
The web portal “Netpress” is registered by the company “Net Press Com DOOEL” in full ownership of another company named “Finzi DOOEL Skopje”.
Owner of “Finzi DOOEL Skopje” is an American company “Finzi LLC” from the United States of America, registered at 41 State Street, Suite 106, Albany NY 12207.
But, if you try to locate this address, it turns out that it is the address of an attorney’s office.
All documents from the American company, owner of the Macedonian “Finzi DOOEL Skopje”, lead to Cyprus. Namely, directors of Finzi LLC are Annie Yeap and Shane Charalambous.
Annie Yeap, according to the internet data is founder of “Equation Corporate Services LTD”, a company offering services to international investors, attorneys, tax advisors or other professionals seeking for partners to establish companies in Cyprus.
The academy painter, 37-year-old Kosta Krpac is registered as director of the company in Skopje “Finzi DOOEL” now owner of the web portal “Netpress”.
It is not familiar when the previous owner of “Netpress” Dejan Nikolovski has sold the web portal since he refused to answer our questions. We have tried to reach Krpac, on whose private address is the registration of the company “Finzi DOOEL Skopje”.
When we asked him when and for what price his company has bought the web portal, he hung up.
If we look at the history of the company “Finzi DOOEL Skopje” we can see that first Managing Director of the company in 2009 was Vladislav Stajkovik, director of “Mobiko DOOEL Skopje” authorized servicing company for mobile phones of T-Mobile Macedonia.
Owner of the company “Mobiko DOOEL” is no one else but Zarko Lukovski, Chief Executive Officer of T-Mobile Macedonia.
Vladislav Stajkovik is founder of NVSP, company which in the weekly “Fokus” in 2012 was mentioned as owner of Security Group Services (SGS), security company related to the director of UBK, Saso Mijalkov.
As owner of SGS now, is the 27-year-old Dejan Kirovski, agricultural worker who has not completed his high school degree.
Stajkovik as of February 2011 is no longer Managing Director of the company “Finzi DOOEL”, on which position is now the academy painter Krpac. The activity of this company is unknown, since only the owner can access its web site.
Considering the fact that Cyprus is an example of country with low income tax rate, it has quite stimulating tax system for opening off-shore companies. The income tax paid in this country amounts 4,25%, there is no foreign currency control, as well as no double taxation (the dividends are not subject of taxation).
When checking the off-shore companies, the hardest thing to do is track their ownership, thus it is uncertain what is the activity of this company in the USA, and also of its businesses in Macedonia, except for the ownership of the web portal “Netpress”.
Until January 20, 2014, the web portal “Netpress” had publicly posted its impressum, that contained the names Lidija Stancevska as Director and Dejan Nikolovski as Editor-in-Chief.
Immediately after that, the web portal deleted the impressum and the contact with the editor’s staff. On January 19, 2014 we sent the former owner of Netpress Com DOOEL, Dejan Nikolovski (former journalist and editor in “Dnevnik” and in “Vreme”) an SMS, asking him to explain us whether and when the media was sold and what is the name of the new owner, and we received the answer: “the name is the same as given by the godfather”.
This article has been produced with the financial assistance of the project South East European Media Observatory, supported by the European Union. The contents of this article are the sole responsibility of the authors and can in no way be taken to reflect the views of the European Union.  
Media Integrity
Media Ownership and Finances