Arms dealer Slobodan Tesic managed to export more than 900 tons of weapons to the United States in the last two and a half years, despite the fact that he and his associates are under US sanctions, BIRN research reveals. While the state claims that it exports weapons exclusively in accordance with international permits, BIRN journalist Aleksandar Djordjevic tells N1 that it is obvious that individuals from the top of the government also benefit financially from Tesic’s business.
Weapons that kill sanctions – a name on the American blacklist, and two Belgrade companies associated with that name still sell weapons in the USA without hindrance. BIRN researchers say that data from the APR and the state cadastre clearly show that Slobodan Tešsic did not even, in military terms, disguise himself properly. “The companies Valir and Zenitprom, which exported over a thousand tons of ammunition to America, are in fact more than firmly connected to Tesic and it could be said that he did not even try too hard to hide his presence behind these companies,” says BIRN journalist Aleksandar Djordjevic.
Founded immediately after the sanctions against Tesic and his associates were tightened, the companies Zenitprom and Valir have been rapidly accumulating tens of millions of euros in business with American companies in recent years. BIRN writes that one shipment this April went into the hands of a company that supplies weapons and ammunition to the US Department of Defense and its allies, especially in Ukraine and Syria. The owner of that American company denies that he ever met Tesic and that he does business with him, the Pentagon did not answer BIRN’s questions, Tešsic and his associates are also silent, and the US Embassy in Belgrade briefly announced: “While we cannot comment publicly on specific cases, the US government takes seriously all allegations of material support for sanctioned entities.
” When a Ukrainian cargo plane carrying Valir weapons to Bangladesh crashed in Greece this July, Defense Minister Nebojsa Stefanovic repeated several times that everything was clear regarding arms exports from Serbia. “As far as Serbia is concerned, we export weapons only in accordance with international permits, to permitted end users, and we think that this is a significant support for our GDP, that is, a significant support for the economy of Serbia,” Defense Minister Nebojsa Stefanovic said at the time. This is a hypocritical message from the minister, says journalist Aleksandar Djordjevic.
Practically everything that Zenitprom and Valir sold to the Americans was produced by the state-owned factory Prvi Partizan from Uzice, and the matrix that Tesic works on actually harms the state, he concludes. “He buys state weapons from state factories at very favorable prices that are detrimental to those factories, and on the other hand, he sells those weapons at many times higher prices, and he does not obtain this difference only for himself, but it is obvious that he also obtains it for individuals from the top of the government that allow him to do such business”, says Djordjevic.
The international portal Arms Watch also wrote about Tesic’s involvement in this arms export to the USA, which claims that despite the sanctions, he even managed to register the company in Florida in 2019. According to their knowledge, there is no information about what kind of activity it was engaged in, and it became inactive on March 31 of this year.