Great Victory for Defrauded Citizens: Court Invalidates 162 False Loan Contracts of MKF “Prizma”

Great Victory for Defrauded Citizens: Court Invalidates 162 False Loan Contracts of MKF “Prizma”

Foto: Pixabay

The Basic Court in Gradiška has sentenced Goran Čikić, also known as “Sani”, to two years in prison and invalidated a total of 162 false loan contracts that he entered into as an official of the Microcredit Foundation “Prizma”, whose claims were acquired by the Sarajevo company “Eos Matrix”.

Written by: Andrijana Pisarević

This verdict concludes a years-long battle for 124 deceived citizens of Gradiška who, believing they were receiving donations 12 years ago, signed false loan contracts.

When “Prizma” went into bankruptcy, its claims were acquired by “Eos Matrix”, an agency that has embittered the lives of these people in recent years with constant harassment, calls, and pressure to collect non-existent claims. Now they will have to return all the money.

Čikić was convicted for exploiting his position as a credit officer in MKF “Prizma” and concluding loan contracts with citizens of lower financial status in this municipality. He signed contracts for amounts ranging from 1,000 KM to 10,000 KM but disbursed amounts falsely presented as non-refundable financial aid from the foundation, ranging from 400 to 1,000 BAM.

Eos 1 presuda

“When these individuals agreed and handed over their ID cards and proof of permanent residence, the suspect created and filled out 162 false loan applications, as well as promissory notes and promissory notes. False loan contracts were then drawn up in the organisational unit in Banja Luka, totalling 1,250,000 KM in the name of the victims”, the court’s verdict from December 15, 2023, states.

The verdict further notes that he then certified these false contracts as true with his signature and gave them to the victims to sign, who did so believing it was humanitarian aid.

Indictment after nine years

“Based on false contracts, the bankruptcy trustee of MKF ‘Prizma’ later, due to non-payment of loan instalments, sent written warnings to the victims for the unpaid matured debt, demanding full repayment of the loan within eight days under the threat of legal action”, the verdict states.

The indictment was filed on November 16, 2021, and all witnesses confirmed that they thought it was humanitarian aid and donations because that’s what the accused told them, and they did not see what they were signing. A court expert determined that the loans were registered under specific numbers, and the documentation was not valid.

The verdict also indicates that Čikić concluded as many as 86 false loans with 86 individuals, each for exactly 10,000 BAM, while the remaining 76 false loans were made with 38 individuals. According to Čikić’s calculations, each of them took out a loan of 9,000 KM and immediately another one for 1,000 BAM.

din tesic

Din Tešić / Provided photo

Din Tešić, a lawyer specializing in real estate, expropriation, and banking disputes, representing several hundred victims of “Prizma” and “Eos Matrix”, says this is just another proof that his clients were deceived.

“Our law firm has filed hundreds of criminal complaints on behalf of the victims, and we are glad that at least some of the victims have finally seen justice. So far, over three million claims of ‘Eos Matrix’ have been disputed, considering interest and legal costs. This is not a small amount for this group of victims who were on the brink of losing their property unlawfully and unfairly. We consider this a significant stance, emphasizing that profiting from people’s ignorance and naivety should not be allowed”, Tešić says for eTrafiku.

He suggests that the High Judicial and Prosecutorial Council of Bosnia and Herzegovina should review the actions of responsible prosecutors in the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina for shortcomings in the investigations.

“It’s sad that this is one of the few verdicts, and according to our knowledge, prosecutors in the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina did not see the extent of the criminal organization and the number of victims of organized fraud. Not only did they personally receive criminal complaints, but they also had public knowledge that 2,500 citizens of Bosnia and Herzegovina were deceived by employees of MKF ‘Prizma'”, Tešić claims.

Defrauded Citizens Exhausted from the Struggle

One of the defrauded citizens was Branislav Boloban from Gradiška, with whom we spoke in 2020 when his fight against “Eos Matrix” began. After almost four years, Boloban has proven that he never took out a loan.

“This is a great relief. Twelve years ago, I believed I received a donation of 500 KM. Only later did I find out it was a loan. With lawyer Tešić, I managed to prove that I was deceived. There are still people around me who have been deceived in the same way and are still waiting for justice. I hope that they will also succeed, like me, in proving that they have been deceived”, says Boloban for eTrafiku.

No One is Competent

Despite hundreds of lawsuits being linked to the Sarajevo debt collection agency “Eos Matrix” for the collection of questionable loans or those long overdue, as well as relentless pressure on citizens, no institution responsible for overseeing the legality of their work has yet emerged.

As a result, citizens have started to unite and file collective lawsuits to free themselves from obligations that, they claim, they were mostly unaware of until the suspension arrived. Despite everything, there has been a complete lack of institutional response.

In previous articles, we asked the inspectors of both entities, as well as the Banking Agencies of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina and Republika Srpska, who has the right and authority to inspect the books of this company and check, given their debt collection activities, whether these collections comply with the laws and whether they fulfil all tax and legal obligations. It turns out that no one knows.

“Eos Matrix” allegedly bought claims in Bosnia and Herzegovina with a total nominal value of 216 million KM, mostly consisting of bank and microloans, of which 60 per cent pertains to individuals, as reported earlier by the media.

Unheard Verdicts

There have been other verdicts against employees of these microcredit organizations, but never against the managers and masterminds. The public has heard nothing about it. Journalists from eTrafika discovered from the verdict on the annulment of 162 loan contracts that the court in Gradiška obtained a judgment from Mrkonjić Grad, where a decision was made on charges against two former employees of “Prizma”.

Odlomak presude

In September 2022, Dragana Balać was convicted of the same offence as Čikić, and sentenced to three years and two months in prison, while her colleague Radosava Savić was acquitted.

The District Public Prosecutor’s Office in Istočno Sarajevo filed an indictment against Milenko Ponjarac, a former employee of “Prizma”, confirmed by the Basic Court in Sokolac.

So far, it has been determined that multiple investigations and criminal proceedings are underway against employees of “Prizma” for concluding fictitious loan agreements.

It is interesting that the trading of claims persists in the so-called grey zone. Data indicates that banks and microcredit organizations have rid themselves of bad loans worth over 950 million KM, selling them to lesser-known and almost mysterious agencies that are not under any control.

Two years ago, two verdicts were rendered in favour of damaged citizens whom “Prizma” unlawfully involved in loans, and “Eos Matrix” attempted to collect certain amounts. The Basic Court in Banja Luka ruled in favour of Radovan Kešin and his wife Ljubljanka from Laktaši, absolving them of a debt of almost 14,000 KM to “Eos”. The mentioned company had to pay compensation for the trial costs.

Almost simultaneously, the same court ruled in favour of Stevo Boroje from Mrkonjić Grad, from whom “Eos Matrix” sought over 9,500 KM.