OCCRP: Unreal Estate



Some close associates and family members of a wealthy Croatian businessman, Mihajlo Perencevic have been able to escape Croatian money laundering controls by getting funds in the tune of millions of dollars transferred into their personal accounts all in the name of purchasing non-existing estates, whereas the main source of the funds cannot be ascertained but the offshore company that issued the payment has a link with the “Magnitsky case.”

Mihajlo Perencevic who is described as a secretive business mogul secret of working and living in Russia remains a riddle unsolved. Perencevic had his influence fully paraded as his daughter tied the knot with Emil Tedeschi, Jr. at Bellevue, the maiden five-star resort on the northern Adriatic island. Perencevic has played a leading role at a major Russian construction company-Velesstroy and the company has won lots of lucrative contracts with the state-owned oil transport monopoly, Transneft. This feat has earned Perencevic some appraisals from two Russian presidents. The leak from Ukio Bankas has a trace of some of the banking transactions into the Adriatic refuge. The data from the bank shows that Mayco Finance Holdings made nine sets of monetary transfers totalling $24.2 million between 2008 and 2010. Six of the transactions went to Austrian bank accounts of Perencevic family members and associates with the transactions labelled payments for real estate.

Sonja Cindori, a law professor at the University of Zagreb, a specialist in money laundering said that having transactions with offshore does not mean an indictment of money laundering but a critical look into the dealings involving Perencevic relatives make it look like fictitious sales with the possibility of money laundering. The Ukio leak reveals that one of the recipients of the Mayco money, Kresimir Filipovic who happened to be the first vice-president of Velesstroy, the Russian company led by Perencevic signed a contract to sell two Zagreb apartments to Mayco in April 2019 and he received about 25 percent more money than the contract specified because as at the time of signing the contract, Mayco had already transferred a sum of 1.6 million euros into his account. Between September 2008 and October 2010, a total of 5.7 million euros was received by an erstwhile son-in-law of Perencevic, Sinisa Cizel, the transfers made to Cizel were justified with the excuse of payment for an imaginary Zagreb villa and issuance of an unrepaid loan. It was later reported that Cizel earned 4.9 million euros from the sales of the imaginary villa to Mayco in 2009, meanwhile, the sid Zagreb villa was acquired by Cizel’s ex-wife Nika Perencevic for over $700,000 and the property is still in her possession till date. A relative of Perencevic, Marta and her husband, Nikola, Marta’s son Predrag, Sonja Perencevic, Damir Lojen, Nada, Davor Krznaric have all been named in one or two shady money transfers between them and the Mayco.

Apart from the involvement of Perencevic and family in shady deals with Mayco, the family is also believed to be involved in chains of transactions involving a legendary restaurant frequented by top-notch celebrities, Dan Tana. though Dan Tana is managed by Chutter Inc. it was reportedly purchased by Perencevic himself but Sonja and Nika are listed as managers of Dan Tana. At the time Perencevic purchased Dan Tana, 24 instalments of $2.8million were reportedly transferred to the Serbian account of Dan Tana by Mayco between December 2008 and September 2009. Multiple attempts to reach Dan Tana and also to get Sonja’s comment ended in futility. The death of a Russian lawyer, Sergei Magnitsky, who exposed people who stole about $230 million from the country’s treasury led to the passage of Magnitsky Act, which allows individuals who committed human rights violation to be sanctioned. Companies like Mayco have their registrations done in offshore because offshore accounts transactions end beneficiaries are not that easy to detect.