• May 27, 2024

Customs Chief Quits Over Cigarette Theft

 Customs Chief Quits Over Cigarette Theft
Photo: Evan Novostro

Rade Milosevic, head of Montenegro’s Customs Office, resigned after an investigation launched by the Special State Prosecution into the tobacco theft in the town of Niksic, reports Balkan Insight.

Milosevic was questioned by police after €1 million ($971,805) worth of tobacco was stolen from a factory in Niksic, where it was supposed to be destroyed.

“I decided to take this action in order to relieve the government, the Customs Office and myself personally of the pressure. I am convinced that my work did not violate the law, but the media and a political hunt were aimed at discrediting me,” Milosevic said.

“It [the hunt] was designed and instructed by certain interest groups threatened by my conscientious and professional work,” he added.

The Special State Prosecutor’s Office stated that Customs officials, without adequate security measures, took over a truck of cigarettes intended for destruction. The truck never made it to its destination at the Mai-rai factory. Police later found the truck hidden in Podgorica, the capital. Customs officers Elvir Adrovic and Milutin Pejovic were arrested.

“I would be very unpleasantly surprised if Milosevic made this kind of oversight,” said outgoing Prime Minister Dritan Abazovic. “He explained to me how the system works, but the authorities will investigate whether there is anything else there.”

Opposition and civic organizations called for Milosevic’s dismissal, but Abazovic urged prosecution to fully investigate the matter first.

Earlier this year, Abozovic suggested tobacco smuggling groups contributed to the no-confidence vote that brought him down in mid-August.