Mounting debt and conflict of interest rocks Montenegro Airlines
The Montenegro State Audit Institution has found that Montenegro Airlines has covered up millions of euros worth of debt by withholding parts of its losses from its financial report. The Montenegrin national carrier struck off debt owed to Airports of Montenegro, Jat Airways, the Serbia and Montenegro Air Traffic Services Agency, Lovćen Insurance Company and the Health Fund. The State Audit Institution concluded that a total of 2.085.000 euros worth of debt has been covered up. “Montenegro Airlines owes Jat Airways 41.000 euros. Its books do not include 112.000 euros owed to the Health Fund, while debt owed to Airports of Montenegro has been reduced by 464.000 euros in its financial report”, a publication by the State Audit Institution reads. Furthermore, the airline misrepresented debt owed to the Serbia and Montenegro Air Traffic Services Agency by 464.000 euros.
It has been found that, contrary to state law, the CEO of Montenegro Airlines, Zoran Djurišić, is also serving on the Board of Directors at the company. Djurišić singlehandedly decided to order an Embraer jet worth 26.5 million euros without consulting others, the scathing report notes. Earlier this year, EX-YU aviation news reported on the large scale conflict of interest and mismanagement at Montenegro Airlines, to which Mr. Djurišić responded that he does not care what a “rotten portal” writes about him.
In its findings, the Montenegro State Audit Institution concluded that the carrier has not signed a collective agreement with the worker’s union, owes half a million euros in unpaid wages to its employees for the year 2011 and owes a further 250.000 euros in taxes. In June, the Montenegrin government agreed to pump up to 36 million euros into its national carrier in order for it to carry out a restructuring program. It also ordered Podgorica and Tivat airports to write off millions in debt owed by Montenegro Airlines. The carrier, which keeps most of its business operations a closely guarded secret, was forced to suspend flights to Priština and Skopje due to unpaid fees last year. You can view Montenegro Airlines’ reaction to the report here.