November 14, 2014 / 6:18 PM / 4 years ago

Prominent Serbian tycoon shot, wounded outside Belgrade home

BELGRADE (Reuters) - One of Serbia’s most prominent business tycoons was shot and wounded outside his home in an upscale Belgrade neighbourhood, officials said on Friday.

Authorities said Milan Beko, 53, was shot three times and rushed to hospital where he underwent surgery.

“He is in stable condition, but his wounds are life threatening,” Dusan Jovanovic, the deputy-head of Belgrade’s Emergency Hospital, told reporters.

The apparent assassination attempt was reminiscent of the 1990s, when Serbia was an international pariah run by late strongman Slobodan Milosevic and business scores were often settled with a gun.

Dusan Milic, the head of Belgrade’s police department, said police were looking for two suspects.

“We are looking for what we believe were a shooter and his helper, all key roads in and around Belgrade are blocked,” he told state-run RTS TV.

Beko is well-known in Serbia as part of a group of Serbian tycoons who mixed business with politics during a decade of sanctions in the 1990s, using political connections and financial clout to grow their fortunes before and after the fall of Milosevic in 2000.

He served as minister in charge of privatisation in the 1990s and wrote the law on the sale of state assets that remained in force until 2001.

Media reports linked him with a series of privatization deals, including the sale of Belgrade’s Danube commercial port, about which he was questioned as part of an investigation by Serbian police last year. He denied any wrongdoing.

Serbia is pursuing membership of the European Union and is under pressure to improve the rule of law and root out the organised crime and corruption that took root under Milosevic.

Reporting by Aleksandar Vasovic; Editing by Matt Robinson and Sonya Hepinstall

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