Northern Macedonia’s chief Special Prosecutor testified to her colleague today, to answer questions as to why her voice can be heard on secret recordings promising a businessman suspected of bribery “not to worry” and that ‘everything will be ok”.
Katica Janeva, who formed part of a celebrated trio of Special Prosecutors brought in to investigate crimes committed by the previous disgraced government, was summoned by the regular Prosecution for Organised Crime and Corruption on Tuesday.
She had been called to testify after an Italian newspaper released secret recordings of phone calls between businessman Jordan Kamcev and media mogul Bojan Jovanovsky. On the phone call Jovanovsky offers to pull strings with Janeva to show leniency in a prison sentence kamcev is facing over corruption charges.
In return, Kamcev was to pay Bojanovsky 1.5 million euros.
At one point in one of the eight recordings released by the La Verita newspaper, Bojanovsky tells Kamcev “You have regards from the woman”, thought to be Janeva, after which what appears to be Janeva’s own voice can be heard, saying: “Do not worry. Everything will be OK.”
“OK, OK, no problem,” Kamcev’s voice is heard replying.
Ms. Janeva, who resigned in July, confirmed the authenticity of the recording, but said that this conversation had nothing to do with the case.
“I have not traded with influence, misused my office or acted unlawfully in any case or at any moment”, Janeva said in a statement.
The case broke in July when Bojan Jovanovski and his partner were arrested on suspicion of extorting Jordan Kamcev.
Jovanovski aka “Boki 13”, an eccentric media celebrity, and his accomplice are said to have promised Kamchev to use their influence to protect him from prosecution. Jovanovski relied on his friendship with Janeva and boasted about being able to influence the Special Prosecutor.
Jordan Kamcev is North Macedonia’s richest man, operating a corporate conglomerate in the financial, media, energy and construction sectors.
Kamcev and North Macedonia’s former chief of intelligence Saso Mijalkov are the two central figures in the “Imperium” case, opened by the Special Prosecutors Office last year.
Both men were taken into custody as part of the investigation, but while Mijalkov was later put under house arrest, Kamchev was released. Janeva is said to have played a decisive role in this and to have personally promised the oligarch that he has nothing to fear.
The scandal has dealt a blow to the anti-corruption bureau, set up during a political crisis in 2015 to address corruption cases.
It also threatens to ruin the success of the government, which has negotiated with Greece the change of its name from Macedonia to North Macedonia, and hopes to start accession negotiations with the European Union soon.