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Serbia: Authorities To Investigate 'Biggest Scam' Of Milosevic Era

Belgrade, 11 July 2003 (RFE/RL) -- Serbian authorities today launched an investigation into the 1997 sale of state assets under former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic that is believed to involve millions of dollars in kickbacks. Serbian Justice Minister Vladan Batic said the sale of a 51 percent stake in Telekom Serbia to Telekom Italy for $497 million was "the biggest scam" in Serbia in the 20th century.

Italy launched its own probe into the deal in 2001 after newspaper reports that kickbacks amounting to millions of dollars changed hands.

Serbia bought back control over the company last December for $220 million.

Batic today said he has requested assistance from Italy, Greece, Germany, Cyprus, and Britain, the countries in which Milosevic and his men are believed to have had secret bank accounts and offshore companies.