The United States (US) Treasury Office of Foreign Assets Control, (OFAC), announced on 8 December 2021 that it had imposed sanctions on Serbian businessman from Kosovo, Zvonko Veselinovic (pictured left), for being “one of Kosovo’s most notorious corrupt figures” and an “organized crime (OC) group leader”.
“The Veselinovic OC group is engaged in a large-scale bribery scheme with Kosovar and Serbian security officials who facilitate the group’s illicit trafficking of goods, money, narcotics, and weapons between Kosovo and Serbia”, OFAC stressed in a press release.
According to a report by Serbian services, Zvonko Veselinovic works closely with Ismet Osmani, leader of a criminal organization involved in international drug trafficking channels. The report notes that Veselinovic’s group buys drugs from Osmani and smuggles them to Serbia while selling weapons through the Albanians in the opposite direction. In Bulgaria, Ismet “Curri” Osmani has been a business partner of Rositsa Kirova, the current Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly (Parliament) from the formerly-ruling Citizens for European Development of Bulgaria (GERB) party.
Osmani was arrested in 2019 in Pristina. The German intelligence service BND wrote the following about Osmani in a report from 2005:
OSMANI Ismet, AKA “Curri”, a Kosovo-Albanian based in KOSOVSKA MITROVICA, deals with cigarette, drug (marijuana, heroin) and fuel smuggling and is considered particularly dangerous. He maintains close ties with UCK (the Kosovo Liberation Army – editor’s note), with THACI (former Kosovo President Hashim Thaci – editor’s note), whom he must have supported financially in 1998, as well as with Kosovar politician IBISHI Nuredin (smuggling).
BND’s report on Balkan organized crime with a focus on Kosovo became public after it was released by Wikileaks.
Ismet Osmani was previously mentioned in a Serbian police report from 2000, known as the “White Paper on Serbian Organized Crime”, quoted by the Serbian investigative portal Krik.rs, a partner of the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP). Krik learned of the report known as the “White Paper on Serbian Organized Crime” through a court hearing.
Both reports describe Osmani as an important player in Kosovo’s criminal underworld.
The Bulgarian connection
The revelation about the joint company of Kirova and Osmani was made by BIRD in April 2021. Kirova and Osmani, together with two other persons, established the joint-stock company Citadel BG in November 2004. Osmani participates in it with 20% of the shares. The subject of activity is the production of construction materials, adhesives and dry mixes, as well as construction.
Asked about the partnership, Rositsa Kirova said she did not remember Osmani, but took urgent action after the publication to close the company.
The ambitious lady from Bulgaria’s Danube city of Vidin made headlines when former Prime Minister and GERB leader Boyko Borisov took her for a ride in his SUV and then put her first on GERB’s general election ballot for Vidin. Prior to making this public appearance with Borisov, Kirova was the coordinator for Vidin of then-opposition party “There Is Such a People” of late night talk show host and Bulgarian celebrity Slavi Trifonov but was expelled from the party after footage of the trip went viral.
The revelations about her joint business with the Kosovo drug lord have had a positive effect on her political career. She was twice elected Deputy Speaker of Parliament, with all Members of Parliament voting unanimously, including those who publicly denounced crime and corruption plaguing Borisov’s rule.
According to BIRD operative sources, Rositsa Kirova’s brother is one of the representatives of the drug boss Christopher “Taki” Amantanidis for northwestern Bulgaria.
Росица Кирова стана известна след като бившия вече премиер Бойко Борисов я повози в джипката си и я назначи за водач на листата на ГЕРБ. Преди да се афишира публично с Борисов, Кирова беше координатор на “Има такъв народ” за Видин, но след кадрите от джипката тя беше изключена от партията.
Разкритията за нейния общ бизнес с косовския наркобос се отразиха позитивно на нейната политическа кариера. Тя беше избрана два пъти за зам.-председател на парламента, като за нея гласуваха единодушно всички депутати, включително и тези, които публично громят престъпността и корупцията по време на управлението на Борисов.
По оперативни източници на BIRD, братът на Росица Кирова е един от представителите на наркобоса Христофор Амантанидис – Таки за Северозападна България.
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This post is also available in: Български (Bulgarian)