In the last two years alone, United Group paid 100 million euros in taxes, United Media, a part of the Group, said on Thursday, responding to Serbia's Government's "shameful campaign against the company."
United Media said it was unpleasantly surprised by some of the executive and legislative authorities who, commenting on Dragan Solak becoming the owner of the Premier League Southampton FC, told numerous untruths about the company, one of the largest foreign investors in the country.
„The Government, led by Prime Minister Ana Brnabic, launched a shameful campaign against him and the company immediately after the announcement that the founder of the United Group taking over 80 percent of the ownership of the club from the Premier League, deceiving the public by presenting a series of incorrect information,“ UM said in a statement.
On TV channels with national frequency and in tabloids, „the officials of the ruling Serbian Progressive Party (SNS) have repeatedly claimed that UM’s media outlets do not respect the laws of the Republic of Serbia and did not pay taxes.“
“The truth, which they are very well aware of after a decade in power, is opposite. United Group in Serbia has 2,750 employees who regularly receive a salary every month. According to the country's laws, taxes and contributions are paid into the budget. In the last two years alone, the company paid almost 100 million euros to Serbia's, which makes it one of the biggest budget fillers,” the statement said.
It added that “the ongoing campaign also testifies that Serbia's Government is only declaratively in favour of the arrival of foreign investors, while in reality it only promotes those who are politically eligible. United Group's members have invested 850 million euros in Serbia in the last ten years, making the company one of the largest foreign investors. Despite that, our companies are continuously targeted by Serbia's Government, which is trying in every way to stop the development of operators and shut down independent media.”
“It is clear that the information placed by the representatives of the ruling establishment are not true, but that their only goal is to discredit the media to create an atmosphere in the public that they are ‘hostile’ and work against the interests of citizens. Now, in the election year, it is more than ever important for them to silence journalists who ask questions and report on those things that the Government does not want to be reported on,” UM's statement said.
It added that “to understand the size and economic power of United Group, it should be known that its business in Serbia is only ten percent of the total business value. That makes it one of the largest companies in Southeast Europe and trusted by the largest global investors. Its results are confirmed by the largest Big4 auditing and consulting companies.”
“Instead of talking about our business, Government officials can publicly say why 600 million euros of Serbia's people money were given to Telecom Serbia to buy the broadcasting rights to the Premier League, at a price several times higher than the most developed countries in the world pay for. Also, when they talk about breaking the law, let us remind them that it is the state's legal obligation to get out of the media ownership and not open new channels. Also, the state must guarantee media freedoms. The state should ensure equal treatment of all foreign investors and not expel the largest ones from the country as unsuitable, while consciously ignoring violations of basic human rights on the other hand,” the UM's statement said.