An appeals court in Serbia is expected to hand out a final verdict soon to the owner of lube marketer Fam’s former operator in a decade-old embezzlement case said by some to have led to the company’s sell-off by the government.
Milo Djuraskovic is the owner of Nibens Group, which formerly operated the Krusevac, Serbia, blender. He was convicted and sentenced in 2016 of defrauding Fam, of evading taxes and causing financial damage to the business. Initially he was sentenced to seven years of prison, but in March of 2019, a special court in Belgrade annulled related charges against Djuraskovic and others of similar charges involving a toll road operator, Delta Holding.
The judge at the special court reduced Djuraskovic’s prison term by almost three years and left him with fines totaling 6 million dinars (€51,000 or U.S. $60,000). The appeal that will soon be ruled on is a request by prosecutors to impose a more harsh sentence.
The court case began in 2010, when prosecutors accused defendants of causing more than €32 million of financial damage and Djuraskovic personally gaining around €15 million from unlawful transactions.
Arrests came two years later. After the sentencing in 2016, defendants were released on bail but were banned from traveling abroad.
The Serbian government owned a stake in Fam until last year, when the business was bought by United States-based Valvoline. Some analysts have said the embezzlement ended any chance that the company could survive on its own.
“Fam was once a thriving company, but the damage done [by Djukanovic and partners] led to imminent sell-off to a strategic investor for a fraction of its real value,” Zorika Pavlovich Davidovic, head of the Belgrade-based consultant Bargos Loa, told Lube Report. “Otherwise, the company faced bankruptcy and closure.”
Valvoline acquired the company for €9.5 million.
“Since it acquired Fam, Valvoline reduced the Serbian lube maker’s workforce by 30 percent,” Davidovic said.
She added that Fam had the best lubricant engineers in the region, “but now they have to be schooled by the Americans.”