OCCRP investigation reveals secret Huawei contracts in Serbia

OCCRP investigation reveals secret Huawei contracts in Serbia
By bne IntelliNews October 26, 2021

The Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) revealed on October 25 that Chinese technology giant Huawei signed contracts for large payments to two people close to Serbia's state-owned telecommunications company Telekom Srbija, using offshore companies suspected of possible corruption.

One of these men, former Telekom Srbija executive Igor Jecl, appears to have received over $1.4mn in contracts, dividends, loans and consulting fees, as well as an apartment from an offshore company that was paid by Huawei for consultancy, the OCCRP wrote.

Although OCCRP has not uncovered evidence that the payments were improper, they were made over a period of time when Huawei was doing business in Serbia. In 2016, it landed a €150mn deal to upgrade Serbia’s telecommunications infrastructure.

The contracts emerged in the Pandora Papers, which were shared with news organisations including OCCRP and Crime and Corruption Investigation Network from Serbia (KRIK).

The other person from Serbia mentioned in the case is lawyer Milorad Ignjacevic. The Pandora Papers documents give only a brief picture of how Jecl and Ignacevic's companies did business. According to OCCRP, their companies had six contracts with Huawei, which issued invoices to collect at least €947,399.

One invoice worth €359.00 referred to the organisation of meetings for Huawei with officials and managers of Serbian telecoms companies. The consultant was also asked to assist Huawei in obtaining approvals and licenses, and “invite the customer [Telekom] to make payments to Huawei in a timely and prompt manner”.

Telekom Srbija — where Jecl was head of department from 2005 to 2008 — began buying equipment from Huawei in 2006. Ten years later, the two companies signed a €150mn contract to reconstruct Serbia's communications network under conditions that remain unknown. Jecl joined Telecom in 2005 after spending two years as an adviser to former company CEO Drasko Petrovic, who is affiliated with the Democratic Party of Serbia.