Honorable Court Chamber!
In the first-instance verdict of the Special Court I was sentenced because of the alleged assistance in tax evasion. My lawyers and I filed an appeal against that verdict precisely stating what was incorrect in the verdict, that is, that the verdict did not prove the commission of the criminal offense.
I would like to remind you what I have undergone in this court procedure. At the end of 2012 – only 2 days before my arrest – I had been on a business trip to Moscow. I was warned not to return because I would be arrested. However, I decided to return knowing that I had not violated any laws, that there was nothing to fear and trusting Serbian judicial system.
Arrest and pressures on the family
I was arrested by some people from the Ministry of Interior, the Prosecutor’s Office and the Courts, although I had not committed any criminal offense. I was detained for 7.5 months.
In order to exert the pressure on me, they also arrested my son. While I was in prison, my mother died. Soon after I was released, my father died too. My granddaughter Antonina was born during my detention. All that time the tabloids conducted the worst possible campaign against me, my son, my family and my company.
During the court procedure Judge Vucinic allowed me to travel to London on business, but he was removed from his position because of that. My case was merged with the FAM case, which was completely illogical since these two cases were not connected. The purpose was to justify the removal of Judge Vucinic from his position. In 2015 there were as may as 60 trial sessions, which is an unprecedented case in the judicial system. The reasons for it were political, but I wouldn’t like to speak about it now.
Absurd which will be learnt by students
In the acquitting part of the verdict, I would like to emphasis two things in particular because I think that in the future they will be taught at the Faculty of Law. The first one is that I am responsible because I knew that there would be an economic crisis and that it was the reason why I sold the shares. Such conclusion is not even worth commenting.
The second is that in 2006 Djuraskovic and I made a deal to siphon 25 million euros from the road maintenance company and then let that company close down. The total 70 million euros was invested in that company. So what is the logic in someone investing 70 million in order to get 25 million?
In the convicting part of the verdict it was decided to convict Miskovic of assistance in tax evasion. It was done because all citizens understood the meaning of the term tax evasion and the fact that such criminal offence was grave, particularly in the diplomatic world. So I was convicted of tax evasion although “Delta” has paid the taxes worth 2 billion euros in the past 10 years. I myself am the greatest taxpayer in the region and in 2011, when selling Maxi, we voluntarily paid 25 million euros to the Serbian state, although we were not legally obliged to do so.
Members of the Parliament cannot issue verdicts
As for taxes, I would like to say that I have never dealt with them. Delta’s tax consultant as well as my personal consultant is KPMG, the most famous world company
Is it logical that Delta and I pay taxes regularly and in all places and that then I should decide to evade taxes in my son’s company? Moreover, we are referring to the year of 2008, in which Delta paid the taxes of as many as 300 million euros to the budget of Serbia?
Here I would like to point out several absurd things in the verdict of the Special Court. The verdict of the Special Court on page 961 says that according to the derived evidence it is concluded that I committed tax evasion. And how is this conclusion reached?
By asking the members of the Parliament whether in this concrete case there was any tax and then the Parliament voted about it. Well, is it the actual evidence in the criminal procedure? Unfortunately, it is to the Special Court, because on page 961 it says: “… taking into consideration that the attitude of the top-ranking state bodies of the Republic of Serbia which expressed their opinion about the given issue…” Is that the way of conducting a court procedure in Serbia? Let us ask the Parliament whether Miskovic is guilty.
What advice did I give my son?
I advised him to hire the best bookkeeping agency in town and he hired Camastra. I also advised him to employ the best director of the company and that is what he did.
Those professionals for bookkeeping and the director say that there was no tax. Moreover, consulting company KPMG says that there was no tax liability, which was also confirmed by “Business Adviser” (Privredni savetnik).
How could only I claim that the tax existed? What knowledge did I need to decide about it and tell my son to pay the tax which is claimed as non-existent by all professionals and tax experts? How could I advise my son to pay something which I didn’t even know should be paid?
I will emphasize once again that I am not familiar with tax matters and that I am no expert in that field.
If the President of the Court asked for the authentic opinion from the Serbian Parliament regarding one legal regulation, how is it possible to expect anyone else to interpret that legal regulation?! And how is it possible that someone wants to evade paying tax when even the court does not know that such tax exists? The court itself on page 954, paragraph 4, says that totally conflicting views came from the derived evidence. Where is Miskovic’s intention if even the court has a dilemma about the existence of such tax?
Furthermore, on the same page of the verdict the first-instance court says: “Such attitude of the court is also supported by the defense of defendant Marko Miskovic who demonstrated that he was not so familiar with business companies”.
Even the court in its first-instance verdict on page 963 says that Marko Miskovic is not familiar with taxes and tax policies because he is interested in film, music and sports. How is it possible to convict him as well of intending to evade tax payment when even the court concluded that he was not familiar with those matters?
Experts say that there is no tax
Why did they convict my son then? Why doesn’t the court accept as evidence seven renowned and expert opinions that there is no tax? Our arguments are more than convincing: the Report of audit company KPMG, opinion of Svetislav Kostic, PhD and Assistant Professor at the Faculty of Law, the University of Belgrade, an expert for the subject Tax Law; the report by “Privredni savetnik – Revizija”, the opinion of the business company for consultant services Revizija“, “Fascino” led by Rada Maruška Lukovac, former Deputy Minister for the fiscal system, the opinion of the Ministry of Finance and Economy of 2nd October 2002, expert analysis by Ivan Simic, former Director of the Tax Administration in 2012 and 2013, the report by Kroll, the leading world company in the area of corporate research and risk. Finally, famous Professor Dejan Popovic, PhD and Professor of Tax Law testified before the Court – and he as the author of the law which was in force in 2008 also confirmed that there was no tax in this transaction.
Honourable Court Chamber, today you are not judging me but you are defending the reputation of the Serbian judiciary. To convict the leading businessman without any evidence for tax evasion is not good for the future of Serbia or for the future of our judiciary.
I listened to the Reporting Judge carefully and I would like to say that I trust this Court Chamber – that you will act according to the law and derived evidence and not according to the “attitudes of the top-ranking state bodies”. That is why I am asking you to adopt my appeal and the appeals of my lawyers, to REVERSE the verdict and to ACQUIT ME!