Chinese tech giant Huawei paid former head of Serbian company Telekom Srbija $ 1 million
Update: October 28, 2021 9:22 AM STI
Belgrade [Serbia], October 28 (ANI): Amid a Chinese push to gain influence in Serbia, Huawei appears to have paid large sums to a former Serbian state telecommunications executive through an offshore shell company , according to a report from a nonprofit organization.
A former executive at state-owned telecommunications company Telekom Srbija received more than $ 1 million through an offshore company in the British Virgin Islands that had contracts with Chinese company Huawei, reported the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP).
Former Telekom Srbija executive Igor Jecl appears to have received more than $ 1.4 million in contracts, dividends, loans, consulting fees and an apartment from an offshore company that was paid by Huawei for advice.
The payments were tied to contracts with Huawei, some for consulting services that included presenting Huawei to government officials and arranging meetings for the Chinese company.
In 2016, Huawei signed a major agreement with Telekom Srbija for the overhaul of the telecommunications infrastructure of Serbia.
Experts say the offshore deals raise red flags for corruption. A current Telekom Srbija official said this should not have happened, OCCRP reported.
None of the offshore companies that have dealt with Huawei have a public record of consulting work, nor any company at all.
Although OCCRP did not find any evidence that the payments were inappropriate, they were made over a period of time when Huawei was doing business in Serbia. In 2016, he landed a € 150 million deal to modernize Serbia’s telecommunications infrastructure.
Journalists discovered the deals via the Pandora Papers, a leak of nearly 12 million documents from 14 offshore service providers obtained by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists and shared with news outlets such as KRIK and OCCRP.
Crime and Corruption Reporting Network (KRIK) is a non-profit organization established to improve investigative journalism in Serbia.
They provide insight into how the rich and powerful hide money in secret jurisdictions like Panama and the British Virgin Islands.
The documents suggest that Jecl was not only dealing with Huawei, but was operating an existing offshore structure set up by another person: Milorad Ignjacevic, a prominent Serbian lawyer who had commercial ties to Telekom, OCCRP reported.
Pandora Papers documents only provide a brief overview of how Jecl and Ignacevic’s companies operate, but among them are several invoices showing scheduled offshore payments, supported by contracts with Huawei.
Together, the two companies had at least six such contracts, for which they issued invoices to collect at least 947,399 euros (roughly $ 1.1 million). Four of the contracts were transferred from one of their shell companies in Panama to another in the British Virgin Islands for reasons that were not explained, OCCRP reported.
One of the invoices was sent by Jecl’s offshore company to Huawei, for 150,000 euros.
The Pandora Papers contain full details of only one of these contracts. Signed on January 1, 2014, it stipulates that the consultant would be paid 359,000 euros (over 493,000 USD) to organize meetings for Huawei with Serbian telecommunications officials and executives.
The consultant is also requested to assist Huawei in obtaining approvals and licenses, and “to urge the Customer [Telekom] make payment to Huawei on time. Another document from the Pandora Papers shows that the contract has been fulfilled and that the 359,000 euros have been paid, OCCRP reported.
The new revelations about the Serbian deals come amid widespread mistrust of Huawei, which is launching its 5G networks around the world.
Australia, the United States and the United Kingdom have all banned Huawei from building 5G infrastructure for fear that China would use it to spy. (ANI)