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European tobacco baron reportedly living in Switzerland

Black market cigarettes on sale in Kosovo Keystone Archive

A Serbian accused of being one of Europe's biggest black market cigarette dealers has reportedly taken up residence in Cologny, just outside Geneva.

This content was published on May 27, 2001 - 20:13

According to a report in the German language "SonntagsBlick", Stanko Subotic, who now carries a Croatian passport, is suspected of having close links with organised crime groups throughout the Balkans.

The report cited claims in the respected Croatian weekly, "Nacional", that Subotic even stands "at the head of the Balkans mafia".

The "SonntagsBlick" report claimed that Subotic met secretly with several senior members of the tobacco giant, British American Tobacco, last week in Budapest to discuss plans to build a $150 million (Sfr270 million) cigarette factory in Kragujevac in Yugoslavia.

The Swiss subsidiary of BAT, based in Zug, is said to have been involved in the deal.

Tracked down by reporters from "SonntagsBlick", Subotic dismissed the claims as "unfounded". His Geneva-based lawyer, Maurice Turrettini, later declared: "All my clients' business affairs are legal."

Eddy Walpen, director of BAT in Zug, told the newspaper that Subotic was representing the Serbian government in the construction project.

However a spokesman for the Croatian interior ministry said the authorities there were considering launching an inquiry into "Subotic's criminal activities".

"According to our information, Subotic is the king of black market tobacco in Europe," Zinka Bardic told "SonntagsBlick". "We also want to find out how Subotic and his family came to possess Croatian passports. There could be an element of corruption involved in this case."

swissinfo with agencies

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