Todays Date
July 16, 2019

SOME COMPANIES SEW, OTHERS TAKE THE CASH

With a direct contract, MOI bought 80.000 euros worth of t-shirts and belts from “Link Media Plus”, which neither sews nor produces the gear

 

 

This project is funded by the European Union

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Маичките за „Линк Медиа Плус“ ги шиела компанијата „Супер хит,“ ремените ги произвела фирмата „Југомлаз-1 ДООЕЛ. Од МВР за оваа набавка велат дека била од крајна итност, затоа не распишале тендер. Но, за неполна година МВР склучило три бизниси со оваа компанија „тешки“ 195.000.


DOCUMENTATION

TABELARY PRINCIPLE OF LINK MEDIA


 

writes: Aleksandra Filipovska

 

 

The company “Link Media Plus”, known for providing the New Year’s decorations for the City of Skopje for the past decade, also “sews” polo shirts for police officers, “produces” belts for rookie policemen, operates a car wash for police vehicles… In less than a year, the Ministry of the Interior has signed three businesses with this company, “weighting” almost 200,000 euros. One of the agreements is signed without a public call for proposals, but rather by a direct contract.

 

 

MOI awarder 195.000 euros worth of business to “Link Media Plus”

 

The Ministry of the Interior, without a public call, signed an 80.000 euro direct contract for  T-shirts and belts for rookie police officers with the company “Link Media Plus”, which is neither sewing t-shirts nor producing belts. The agreement with this company, which now cooperates with many institutions, was concluded last year in 2018 in April, when the Ministry of Interior urgently purchased 1,200 belts and short-sleeved collared t-shirts from “Link Media Plus”, paying  66,000 euros for the belts, 55 Euro per piece, and buying T-shirts for almost 13,000 euros, which is close to 10,5 euros per piece. The  T-shirts for “Link Media Plus” were sewed by the company “Super hit”, the belts were produced by the company “Jugomlaz-1 DOOEL Borche”.

But the cooperation doesn’t stop there. In September last year, the Ministry of Interior contracted  “Link Media Plus” for washing the police vehicles for a two year period, a service costing 38,000 euros. And this year, not only t-shirts for police recruits, but “Link Media Plus” will “sew” the same kind of T-shirts for the rest of the police force. The data from the Public Procurement Bureau show that in March this year the company received a tender for the production of 7,000 short-sleeved T-shirts for the police. MOI will pay close to 77,000 euros, or almost 11 euros per t-shirt for this “Link Media Plus” contract for 6,300 men’s and 700 women’s t-shirts.

 

MOI: The purchase of T-shirts was of utmost urgency

 

Two of the contracts are awarded after a public bid, but the first of the three – the one for 80.000 euros worth of collared t-shirts and the belts for rookie cops was awarded with a direct agreement. The explanation from the Ministry of Interior is that it was an emergency procurement.

It is precisely such urgent purchases, concluded by negotiating “in four eyes”, that impose a dilemma in the public – what is the economic logic and how rational are the tax-payers money spent, and can a lower price be achieved at a public competition among several firms?!

According to experts, when there are subcontractors, the price is usually higher – both the manufacturer and the company that won the contract take a piece of the cake.

“By all means, public procurement should take into account the efficient and economical spending of state money. “Efficient” means that the goal is to get better quality for a lower price. Normally, when the goods are directly procured from the manufacturer, it is always more economical, more rational and cheaper than when the purchase goes through a middleman, as this increases the price of the product, “says Vanja Mihajlovska, a former member of the Anti-Corruption Commission.

 

 

Sources from the Ministry of Interior said that the procurement of T-shirts and belts had to be urgently contracted because they did not know beforehand the exact number of police trainees that would complete the training, nor their uniform sizes. The new uniform rulebook also took some precious time. When asked why they invited “Link Media Plus”, which does not manufacture uniforms, the Ministry of Internal Affairs says that they have sent invitations to 15 operators, that is, to the companies that had won most contracts in previous tenders.

– During 2018, the legal entity “Link Media Plus” was selected as the most favorable bidder by the Ministry of Interior for the procurement of vehicle washing services for a period of 2 years, and in the procedure of extreme urgency for the purchase of uniforms for novice police officers. The uniform procurement procedure was conducted in accordance with the law, with negotiation without prior publication of a call for bids, for reasons of extreme urgency, caused by events that the contracting authority could not foresee and can not be attributed as an omission. The deadline for publication of an open procedure, restricted procedure, a simplified competitive procedure or a negotiated procedure with prior publication of a contract notice could not be applied. The contract was not concluded with direct agreement, but after the invitations were sent to 15 economic operators, three bidders submitted tenders for the part 3 of the procurement – T-shirts and two bidders for the part 7 – duty belts. After the negotiations, and not by direct agreement, an agreement was concluded with the bidder that submitted the lowest final price.

Sub-contractor for the T-shirts is “Super hit” from Radovis, and for the worst is “Jugulaz-1 DOOEL Borce” from Skopje – answered the Ministry of Interior.

 

Thousands of euros made by resale of gear

 

The owner of “Super Hit” did not want to reveal the price of the t-shirts they made for “Link Media Plus” because they were a business secret. That is why we called in two textile companies that are sewing such t-shirts. The price they offered was 5 and 6 euros for a piece of the highest quality, and included the insignia of our choice. As a quick comparison – the MOI paid 10,5 euros a piece for the first contract, the direct agreement for 1,200 novice police officers, and an average of 11 euros per t-shirt with the latest purchase for 7.000 policemen.

We also contacted the duty-belt producer, “Jugomlaz-1 DOOEL Borce” from Skopje, to ask what the price is for a police duty belt. The owner explained that these were not ordinary belts, but had additional 8 parts- a pistol holster, a handcuff pouch, batton holder, flashlight pouch and other parts. His price estimate for the same belt, offered to us, was around 40 to 45 euros per piece. In the “Link Media Plus” contract, the MOI paid 55 per belt.

According to the information from the Ministry of Interior, the offer of the second company that appealed for the production of the belts, “Fores” from Skopje was 2 euros higher than that of “Link Media Plus”, and for the t-shirts the second company that called, “Donna M” offered a total price 585 euros higher than that of “Link Media Plus”. That’s why the selection fell to “Link Media Plus”. Companies that did not win the bid didn’t want to comment anything about the selection.

 

The Ministry of Internal Affairs claims that the practice shows that even when producers bid on a tender, their prices were higher than those of the companies-traders. How and why – they do not know.

 

Vukov: The law allows me to have tender subcontractors

 

The purchase of T-shirts and belts is part of the purchase of complete uniforms for novice police officers, worth 227,000 euros. It is scheduled in the annual procurement plan of the Ministry of Interior for 2018, and accounted for in the annual budget of the. And the new police uniforms were publicly promoted in November last year.

– In order to meet the immediate needs for a basic uniform for 1,200 newly employed police officers who, due to lack of uniform, use their training uniforms, we made an urgent aquisition of 1.200 sets of t-shirts, duty shirts, short jackets, ties and we’re awaiting a delivery of shoes and belts. The value of this purchase is MKD 14 million (EUR 227 thousand) with VAT – the Ministry of Internal Affairs said in August 2018.

The owner of “Link Media Plus”, Gjorgi Vukov, said in a telephone conversation that there is nothing controversial about the tenders he receives, and the law allows him to have subcontractors.

– Am I supposed to shut the company down? I have employees, I have children, family, I pay taxes. I do what the law allows me, and it allows me to have subcontractors. The car wash is mine, it has 14 employees and it is the only tax-paying car wash that issues fiscal receipts – shortly answered Vukov, stressing that he does not want to answer our additional questions. Before concluding the conversation, he said:

-I will see what you post, and I will deny or sue.

“Link Media Plus” has long been known to the public as the New Year’s decorator of many of the municipalities in the country in the past years.

The cooperation continued with the current government, which was fiercely attacking this company while in opposition, especially for the deals in the Ministry of Interior that exceeded hundreds of thousands of euros. A decade ago, in 2009, the Ministry of Interior and then Minister Gordana Jankulovska were called out by the then opposition MPs, now part of the government, for the deals with “Link Media Plus”, which exceeded one million euros. The Ministry of Interior then bought body armor, t-shirts, police insignia. It paid 700.000 euros to “Link Media Plus” just for the body armor, produced by Bulgarian “Mars Armor”.

 

For a year, 600.000 euros worth of business with the state

 

The data of the Public Procurement Bureau shows that the “Link Media Plus” company often cooperates with the institutions. In two years, in 2017 and 2018, after the new government was elected, the state awarded it with a total value of nearly a million euros in contracts. It’s difficult to calculate the total value of the deals it made with state institutions in its lifetime since it had hundreds of contracts with a number of central and local government institutions, ranging from police gear to planting flowers on boulevards.

Even after the change of power, “Link Media Plus” gets municipal tenders for New Year’s decorations. Besides the vehicles of the Ministry of Interior, it’s washing the service vehicles of the Financial Police Directorate and the Civil Aviation Agency, it supplies protective gear for the Government’s General Affairs and Common Affairs Office, maintains irrigation systems, even supplies mattresses for the hospital in Prilep. In most of the tenders, it is often the only bidder.

This investigation showed that last year, this company won the tenders for decorating the City of Skopje and the Municipality of Strumica, worth almost 300,000 euros, which is half of the total amount for decorating spent by all municipalities. For last year’s New Year decorations, City of Skopje paid 260,000 euros, 65,000 euros more than the previous year. “Link Media Plus” was the only bidder and had no one to bid against, and the city government justified the increased costs with an added fireworks display and the decoration of two additional boulevards in the procurement process.

-This agreement includes New Year’s decorations of a large number of public spaces and boulevards in the central city area, the installation of the central Christmas tree, as well as the fireworks for the New Year’s celebration. The reason why this year’s procurement had a higher price is that, unlike previous years, the scope of decorating is bigger, with additional boulevards, and the agreement includes fireworks,  which was a separate tender in previous years. The “Link Media Plus” company regularly performs this service in the City of Skopje, starting from 2009, and in 2014 it did this partnered with the company “Lutariko” (they bid together in the tender) – the City of Skopje responded.

They did not reveal any other details about the contract, only mentioning that the tender for the year before, worth 195,000 euros, was without the fireworks, which now add an additional sum of more than 10,000 euros. That would mean that, for the fireworks and two additional boulevards, the city of Skopje paid 55.000 euros to “Link Media Plus”, a sum that is far higher than the decorating of an entire municipality, such as Strumica.

Оглас бр.85/2013

Носител на набавката – Линк Медиа Плус Скопје

Вредност на договорот: 1.394.760,00 денари со ДДВ

Има само еден понудувач.

Оглас бр. 51/2014

Носител на набавката – Линк Медиа Плус – Скопје

Вредност на договорот : 1.994.200,00 денари со ДДВ

Согласно чл.36а став 9 од Законот за Јавни набавки направено е анализа и истражување на пазарот, опфатени 12 економски оператори кои можат да одговорат на предметната набавка.

Испратено известување до сите нив за објавен оглас.

Има само еден понудувач.

Оглас бр.51/2015

Носител на набавката – Линк Медиа Плус – Скопје

Вредност на договорот 2.229.820,00 денари со ДДВ.

Согласно чл. 36а став 9 од Законот за Јавни набавки направено е анализа и истражување на пазарот, опфатени 12 економски оператори кои можат да одговорат на предметната набавка.

Испратено известување до сите нив за објавен оглас.

Има само еден понудувач.

Оглас бр. 42/2016

Носител на набавката – Линк Медиа Плус – Скопје

Вредност на договорот 2.499.240,00 денари со ДДВ.

Согласно чл.36а став 9 од Законот за Јавни набавки направено е анализа и истражување на пазарот, опфатени 12 економски оператори кои можат да одговорат на предметната набавка.

Испратено известување до сите нив за објавен оглас.

Има само еден понудувач.

Оглас бр. 38/2017

Носител на набавката – Линк Медиа Плус – Скопје

Вредност на договорот 2.499.240,00 денари со ДДВ.

Согласно чл.36а став 9 од Законот за Јавни набавки направено е анализа и истражување на пазарот, опфатени 12 економски оператори кои можат да одговорат на предметната набавка.

Испратено известување до сите нив за објавен оглас.

Има само еден понудувач.

Оглас бр.48/2018

Носител на набавката – Линк Медиа Плус – Скопје

Вредност на договорот 2.499.240,00 денари со ДДВ.

Со измените на Законот за јавни набавки во ноември 2017, член 36 а став 9 од истиот е укинат, согласно тоа договорниот орган нема обврска за истражување на пазарот и известување на економските оператори.

По објавувањето на огласот има само еден понудувач.

The Municipality of Strumica confirms that in the last 6 years New Year’s decorating of the city belongs to “Link Media Plus”. From 2013 to 2018, the Municipality paid the company a total of 210,000 euros for decorations, lamps, and lights. It is evident that this purchase cost 22,600 euros in 2013, and in the last three years, the amount has doubled, reaching almost 40.000 euros in each of the three years. Although “Link Media Plus” was the only bidder in the tender in 2013, the contract was made with a direct agreement without public procurement in all subsequent years, where “Link Media Plus” was the only one of the invited companies to answer the call for proposals.

The Municipality of Strumica says that all public procurements have been conducted in a procedure in accordance with the Law, published on the ESPP in a transparent procedure.

 

Millions in deals for Christmas tree decorations

 

Besides in Strumica and the City of Skopje, in the past several years “Link Media Plus” worked on the New Year’s decorating of the squares in Radovis, Valandovo, Kriva Palanka, Kumanovo, Kavadarci, Gevgelija, Cair, Kisela Voda, Gjorche Petrov, Centar, Gazi Baba, as well as GTC. For this business, thousands of euros nested on the account of Link Media Plus.

Citizens of Skopje alone had paid more than 1,5 million euros for the New Year decorations of the metropolis since. The Municipality of Karposh paid 350,000 euros for decorations from 2011 to 2014, and Gazi Baba paid 95,000 euros for the same period. Thousands of euros were flowing to the account of “Link Media Plus” from other smaller municipalities.

Today, the Municipality of Karposh claims that the company won only one tender during the term of the current Mayor Stefan Bogoev. It was last October, for a small procurement worth 350,000 denars – maintenance of automatic systems for watering public green areas – where it was the only company to answer the bid. But, the business with the municipality “flourished” at the time of the previous mayor, Stevco Jakimovski.

– In the past years, several agreements were concluded between the Municipality of Karposh and “Link Media Plus”. In 2014, five contracts were signed, in 2015 three contracts, and in 2016, a total of 18 contracts were signed – said sources from the Municipality of Karpos.

 

 

Karposh residents paid 418,000 euros for greenery on the city boulevard

 

The owner of “Link Media Plus”, Gjorgi Vukov, is in the ownership of the company “Hrising Lutariko”. The third owner in “Hrising Lutarco” is a company named “Lutarico”, where the owners are Gorgi Vukov and Momir Simic. “Lutariko” is one of the owners of a company called “Vel City Group” from Veles. So, in addition to “Link Media Plus”, Vukov is in the ownership of three other firms in the construction business. In addition to state contracts, the companies he has ownership in have built houses and apartments, many of which are in the municipality Karposh.

And it is exactly these two companies, “Link Media Plus” and “Lutariko”, that were hugely contracted by the Municipality of Karposh in the time of former mayor Stevco Jakimovski. The data of the Public Procurement Bureau shows that in the last years of Jakimovski’s term in office contracts with these two companies were signed day after day, sometimes even twice a day. Thus, in the period from 2014 to 2016, the Municipality of Karpos and “Link Media Plus” signed 27 contracts “weighing” over 1.3 million euros. With “Lutariko”, just from April to August 2016, Jakimovski concluded 6 tenders weighing 1.1 million Euros.

In Karposh,  “Link Media Plus” took care of the flower plants, and just for the restoration of flower seedling on the Partizanski Odredi boulevard, the Municipality of Karposh paid 146,000 euros in 2015, and 150,000 euros in 2014 for a horticultural arrangement of the same boulevard. In 2016, 122,000 euros were spent to rebuild the flower seedlings of Partizanski Odredi boulevard, which means that in three years the greenery and the flowers on this boulevard cost the citizens of Karpos incredible 418,000 euros. On a side note, the “Partizanski Odredi” boulevard is under the jurisdiction of the City of Skopje, which has its public company “Parks and Greenery” for flowers and public greenery. Municipality of Karposh, in the time of Jakimovski, was paying “Link Media Plus” for maintenance of an automatic irrigation system, as well as for the horticultural arrangement of other squares. Thus, for the reconstruction of sidewalks on the street “Franz Prešern”, in 2016 the company got paid € 222,000. The municipality also had a business with Vukov’s other company, “Lutariko”. For example, he built the “Peco Bozinovski Koco” square opposite the student campus “Goce Delcev”, including a fountain, for which he received 626,000 euros, and set up urban equipment on the same square for 114,000 euros. For the construction of the square in Karpos 4 it got paid 305,000 euros and for the reconstruction of the stairway in Porta Vlaea 68,000 euros. “Lutarico” also built a square in Nerezi and more.

 

Criminal charges against ex-Mayor Jakimovski for suspicious tenders

 

Sources in the Financial Police Department say that during 2018 the legal entities “Link Media Plus” and “Lutariko” appear in their investigations, but not as suspects.

– In the course of 2018, the legal entity “Lutariko DOO Skopje” appears as part of our investigation, but not as a suspect, but only as a subcontractor hired by the contractor “Metal Vat El DOOEL Skopje”, who received a tender for construction works for the construction of the “Multifunctional Children’s Complex – Pirate Valley”on “Peco Bozinovski Koco” Square. The legal entity “Lutarico” DOOEL, also in 2018, receives a tender for the construction of “Peco Bozinovski-Koco” Square as the most favorable bidder, although that moment is the reason for the criminal charges filed due to the existence of a reasonable suspicion of committing a crime “Abuse of official position and authorization” Article 353 paragraph 5, and “Unethical operation” Article 353-c paragraph 1 against the Mayor of the Municipality of Karpos, who, together with the Chairman of the Commission for Public Procurement and two members of the commission, acted contrary to the provisions of the Law on Public Procurement and in the process of public procurement, a reduction of the competition was enabled, and with the exclusion of the other economic operators from the further phase of the procedure, the choice of the contractor was made. In the last case where the legal entity “Link Media Plus DOOEL Skopje” has received a tender for “Restoration of flower breeding of jardiniers”, for which criminal charges were also brought against the Mayor of the Municipality of Karpos, who, together with the Head of the public sector procurement, acted contrary to the law on public procurement where they concluded an agreement without a bank guarantee. In these few cases from 2018, the legal entities indicated by you are not suspects – say sources from the Financial Police Directorate.

The prosecutor’s office launched an investigation against Jakimovski, and some of these procurements, which were flagged by the Financial Police, were the reason why, as a precautionary measure, Jakimovski was put under a house arrest.

 

This investigative story was produced with the financial support of the European Union. Its contents are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the European Union.