Gruevski’s great business acumen on display as Hungarian firm turns a profit

Former Prime Minister of North Macedonia Nikola Gruevski (C) leaves the Budapest-Capital Regional Court after his extradition trial in Budapest, Hungary, June 27, 2019. EPA-EFE/ZOLTAN MATHE

The Hungarian company recently created by the former Prime Minister of North Macedonia, Nikola Gruevski, had a successful start, as it managed to post a net profit of 10,000 euros in just over five months of operation, according to local Hungarian media.

The rapid success of this modest venture, recorded on July 14 in an empty house in a village 20 kilometers from Budapest, will raise eyebrows in the Western Balkans and beyond, given Gruevski’s past criminal convictions and his proximity with the Hungarian government of Viktor Orban. .

Gruevski was sentenced by a North Macedonian court to two years in prison in 2018 for the illicit purchase of a luxury vehicle and an additional seven years for money laundering in April in absentia after fleeing North Macedonia. North in 2018 with the help of Hungarian diplomats. He then obtained asylum from the Orban government under an accelerated procedure and refused to return to his native country.

Since then, Gruevski has shunned publicity and little is known about his living conditions and activities. But he made headlines last summer when he set up ICIC Ltd, a small business in a sleepy village on the outskirts of Budapest. The company is registered in a deserted house with no sign of activity, with Gruevski listed as the sole owner and managing director.

The company’s main activity is business consultancy, but it is also licensed to conduct a wide range of other activities, such as wholesale of china, glassware and cleaning products; wholesale of food, beverages and tobacco; asset Management; and advertising, PR and communication.

Although ICIC has only been operational since last summer, it has already managed to become profitable thanks to revenues amounting to 5 million forints (13,000 euros), Hungarian business site reported. Its net profit for the period from mid-July to the end of the year was 3.8 million forints (10,000 euros).

It’s unclear what activities the revenue came from, but local media speculate the money could be linked to the Hungarian Foreign Ministry. Peter Szijjarto, Hungarian Foreign Minister, made no secret of his regular meetings with Gruevski.

“If we want to have the most authentic information about what is happening in the Western Balkans, who should we talk to if not someone who was prime minister there for 10 years?” Szijjarto said in parliament in 2019, questioned about his relationship with Gruevski.

In early April, Gruevski was placed on the sanctions list by the US State Department, but due to Gruevski’s close personal relationship with Prime Minister Orban, this would likely cause his government to change its friendly approach to the former leader. of North Macedonia.

Laura T. Thrasher