ERS continues the practice – One director in two chairs

ERS continues the practice – One director in two chairs

In mid-July, MH Elektroprivreda RS established a new company, Termoelektrana Gacko, for development and investment in Gacko. The company has no empl

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Our sources claim that they receive income from both positions. ERS has not yet confirmed whether this is true, how much their salary is, and how their working hours are calculated. What is certain is that the case in Gacko is not an exception but a rule.

ERS Holding and Its 22 Subsidiary Companies

Excluding the company Nove elektrane RS, which is bankrupt (the idea of building TE Gacko 2 with ČEZ Czech Power Plants failed, as noted by the author), Elektroprivreda RS is the founder of 22 companies. According to data from the Register of Business Entities of RS, it has a minority stake in three of them, while in 19 companies, it is the sole founder and owner.

Elektroprivreda RS (FOTO: Direkt)

The youngest company was registered in Gacko just a month ago. It is called Termoelektrana Gacko, development and investment, with an initial capital of 100,000 BAM. The company’s primary activities involve preparatory work at construction sites, although its “domestic trade” activities are quite diverse, ranging from lignite extraction to recycling, machinery and tool production, to electricity generation. The new company shares the same address as the old one, specifically, ZP RiTE Gacko – Gračanica bb. According to Maksim Skoko, acting director of RiTE Gacko, this should come as no surprise.

“There are no obstacles; we intend to allocate a smaller office space for the needs of that company. I don’t know if the contract has already been signed, but it is certainly prepared. Just as we rent out our spaces to banks or other entities in Gacko, there is no difference in this case. Being at the same address means that we have already made an agreement on where we will rent out office space for their needs,” explains Skoko.

Investment and Development – Never Too Much

Apart from sharing the same address, the name of the new company coincides with the name of one of the sectors within RiTE Gacko, whose focus is on development and investment. However, Skoko claims that there is no conflict there.

“The Investment and Development sector is involved in the development of the existing mine and thermal power plant. The new company is focused on the future of Gacko 2, if it happens, and I hope it will. Then, there will probably need to be synergy,” explains Skoko and mentions a similar example in Ugljevik, where Ugljevik 3 even has the right to exploit part of the coal basin.

However, the connection between the two companies doesn’t end there. Their common denominator is the Executive Director, Petar Marković. In both positions, he is, of course, acting. In ZP RiTE Gacko, he is the acting executive director for mine development, and in the other position, he is the acting executive director for technical matters. Like many other directors, Marković has been in an acting status for more than five years. Simultaneously, he is the head of the SNSD (Alliance of Independent Social Democrats) council club in the Gacko Municipality Assembly.

Igor Milojević has been appointed as the acting director of the new Termoelektrana Gacko, and he is simultaneously the executive director at ZP “Elektro-Hercegovina.”

This practice seems to be confirmed as a rule by the case of Milutin Mastilović, who is simultaneously the executive director of Elektro-Hercegovina and a member of the Board of Directors of Solar Photovoltaic Plant Trebinje 1, founded by ERS and a Hungarian company, which is the majority owner, as previously reported by Direkt.

At the time, he told us that he was engaged under a management contract. Two years later, according to data from the Register of Business Entities, he still holds the same positions.

The Register of Business Entities in RS shows that the newly established company in Gacko is not an exception. Most of them have only directors and acting executive directors, and the provided contact numbers often lead to dead ends. This led us to a former worker of Elektro-Krajina, who told us that the “Delibašino selo” hydropower plant doesn’t produce electricity. Further investigation led us to one secretary, then another, but we couldn’t reach the spokesperson or director of this hydropower plant, Željko Kovačević.

When we called “Renewable Energy Sources Zvornik,” a lawyer who participated in the registration of this ERS subsidiary company answered our call. He explained that the establishment of these companies is a way to comply with legal regulations that require the separation of distribution from production companies.

What Was That About a Conflict of Interest?

The established practice of appointing directors in public companies based on political agreements has resulted in the circumvention of the law, creating an ideal profile for directors who, according to the Commission led by Obrenko Slijepčević for the past fourteen years, cannot be in a conflict of interest. They are typically members of the ruling or one of the coalition parties, hold acting positions, and lead a public institution or subsidiary company. As Slijepčević has emphasized multiple times, the law only applies to “real” directors who lead public or parent companies.

Due to the absence of any sanctions, holders of power have not made an effort to renew their acting status every six months in recent years, resulting in numerous cases of “eternal” acting directors.

In our inquiry to ERS, to which we have not received a response yet, we sought an explanation of how the working hours of those who serve as acting directors in two companies are documented.

Maksim Skoko, the acting director of RiTE Gacko, who heads the management of one company where Marković is the executive director, told us that he doesn’t know how it’s managed in the other company but assures that he gives his maximum effort in RiTE Gacko.

“As for the obligations and activities in RiTE Gacko, he conscientiously and fully performs them. What he does for the other company and during which period, I do not know, but in RiTE Gacko, he is definitely employed and certainly working full-time, if not more.”

maksim skoko

Maksim Skoko (Foto: Siniša Pašalić)

The newly established Termoelektrana Gacko has, for now, entered into two direct agreements, each worth 5,990 BAM. In their procurement plan for the end of the year, they anticipate spending around 200,000 BAM, mainly through direct agreements, on office furniture and materials, project documentation, computer equipment, and other needs. They have allocated 18,000 BAM for website development, advertising and promotional materials, and advertising, and 20,000 BAM for education and training.