Gruevski, who has been granted political asylum in Hungary, was tried in absentia at Skopje Criminal Court. He was found guilty of unlawfully stealing money, more than 1.3 million euros, from his former VMRO DPMNE party, and using a money laundering scheme to buy property with the funds.
“For this plan, Gruevski needed money, so he decided to steal from donations from the party,” the presiding judge, Ilija Trpkov, explained.
Gruevski was tried alongside five other members of the scheme. Gruevski’s cousin and former head of the Secret Police, Saso Mijalkov, was sentenced to one year and three months for aiding in money-laundering. Mijalkov had pleaded not guilty to the charges.
Businessman Orce Kamcev was sentenced to one year in jail for money-laundering.
Gruevski’s friend, Risto Novacevski, and businessman Nenad Josifovic both received a two-year suspended jail term for money-laundering after admitting to their guilt during the trial.
The verdict is a first-instance verdict, meaning the defendants have the right ot appeal.
According to the verdict, Gruevski is guilty of stealing money from donations made to the then-ruling VMRO DPMNE party between 2006 and 2012 while he was serving as prime minister. He then used the funds to buy property in Skopje and other locations using an offshore company registered in Belize.
“Gruevski’s money from Macedonia was transferred to Belize and through Stopanska Banka Bitola, it was then returned to Macedonia. Then, as Kamcev’s money, it went once more to Belize and was returned [to North Macedonia] through [Kamcev’s company] Orka Holding,” explained Judge Trpkov.
The other defendants in the trial served as “owners” for Gruevski’s land, building lots and apartments to mask the scheme.
The court seized land of over 11,000 square meters, including construction lots, as well as a number of apartments with a total size of some 650 square meters, some of which are luxury properties in Skopje.
After investigating for several years, the Organized Crime Prosecution filed charges in May 2021.
In 2019, Gruevski said he had fled North Macedonia for Hungary because of threats that he would be killed in prison. Gruevski, who has close ties with Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, was granted asylum soon after arriving in Budapest.
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