Former North Macedonia prime minister Nikola Gruevski’s recently established Hungarian company has enjoyed a successful start to business, as it managed to post a net profit of 10,000 euros in little more than five months of operation, according to local Hungarian media.
The quick success of this modest business, registered on July 14 last year at an empty house in a village 20 kilometres from Budapest, will raise eyebrows in the Western Balkans and beyond, given Gruevski’s past criminal convictions and closeness to 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 for another seven years for money laundering in April in absentia after absconding from North Macedonia in 2018 with the help of Hungarian diplomats. He subsequently received asylum from the Orban government in an expedited procedure and has refused to return to his homeland.
Since then, Gruevski has avoided publicity and little is known about his living conditions and activities. But he made it into the headlines last summer when he established I.C.I.C Ltd, a small company 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 sole owner and chief executive.
The company’s main focus is business consultation, but it is also licensed to conduct a wide range of other activities, like the wholesale of porcelain, glassware and cleaning products; the wholesale of food, beverages and tobacco; asset management; and advertising, PR and communication.
Although I.C.I.C. has only been operational since last summer, it has already managed to become profitable on the back of revenues amounting to 5 million forints (13,000 euros), the Hungarian business website mfor.hu reported. Its net profit for the period from the middle of July to the end of the year was 3.8 million forints (10,000 euros).
It is not known from which activities the revenues derived, but local media speculate that the money could be linked to the Hungarian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Peter Szijjarto, Hungary’s foreign minister, has made no secret about his regular meetings with Gruevski.
“If we want to have the most authentic information on what is happening in the Western Balkans, who should we talk to, if not someone who had been prime minister there for 10 years?” Szijjarto said in parliament in 2019 when asked about his relationship with Gruevski.
In early April, Gruevski was put on the sanctions list by the US State Department, but due to Gruevski’s close personal relationship with Prime Minister Orban, this would unlikely cause his government to change its friendly approach to the former North Macedonia leader.