One of the foundational myths used to assess the political climate in the Balkans juxtaposes a western, genuine capitalism to a primitive balkan kind. Corruption lies at the core of this distinction. The story of the Macedonian telecommunication market not only unmasks the misconceptions underlying that myth, but also points to the crucial role played by international corruption in the workings of the ‘free market’.
“A lawyer with his briefcase can steal more than a hundred men with guns” – goes one of the infamous quotes from the original script of The Godfather. Although it was never actually spoken in the movie, it has found its way into contemporary affairs, albeit in a new and reinvigorated form: “A politician with a pen, can steal more than a hundred lawyers with their briefcases and a thousand men with guns”. It is in recent Macedonian affairs, where we find one of this quote’s most sophisticated contemporary applications. One affair in particular, that of the Macedonian Telecom, reveals how foreign business interests, intermingle with corrupt domestic politicians in criminal networks designed to reap financial benefits at the expense of the domestic public. The consequences however, extend beyond financial damage, as they spill over into wide-reaching political and social consequences.
In 2011, the United States Department of Justice (DoJ) and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) charged the largest telecommunications provider in Hungary, Magyar Telecom, and three of its former top executives with bribing government and political party officials in Macedonia. Magyar Telekom, a subsidiary of Deutsche Telekom, had bought Macedonian Telecommunications back in 2001. What made the case of the Macedonian Telekom admissible within the jurisdiction of the US Court was the presence of Deutsche Telekom as a trader of securities on Wall Street.
The original article can be found at www.criticatac.ro