Allegations of money laundering of campaign cash have long blighted politics in Montenegro, where the ruling Democratic Party of Socialists, DPS, have held power for more than two decades under the leadership of Milo Đukanović.
Critics describe Serbia’s tiny neighbour and EU hopeful as a fiefdom run by political elites. They accuse the DPS of misuse of state funds, abuse of office, election fraud and vote-buying, all denied by the party. In October 2016, the DPS scored its seventh straight victory in elections overshadowed by an alleged Russian-backed coup plot and deep divisions over Montenegro’s path to NATO membership, which it achieved in June. Prosecutors are investigating opposition leaders for possible involvement in the alleged coup. They are also looking into allegations that Nebojša Medojević, leader of the main opposition alliance, the Democratic Front, laundered money to finance the coalition during the 2016 election, which he denies. Critics say prosecutors are less eager to investigate allegations of similar money laundering by the ruling DPS, which is still led by Đukanović although he stepped down as prime minister last October. In 2011, local media published the names of people who denied they had given money to the DPS although their names appeared on the State Election Commission’s list of donors. Prosecutors started investigating the case in early 2012, but only after an anti-corruption group called MANS filed a criminal charge against the party for possible money laundering. Five years later, nothing has come of the case. The special state prosecutor’s office declined to comment. Meanwhile, the allegations have not discouraged donors from giving to the DPS. In the 2016 election, individual donations accounted for half of the party’s campaign war chest, amounting to some 680,000 euros.