TIR pLate

A former executive with the Geneva-headquartered International Road Transport Union (IRU) yesterday made a criminal complaint against its secretary general and chief operating officer, alleging they diverted some Sfr530m (US$554m) that should have been returned to members.

Marak Retelski, who led the IRU’s TIR department, administering the security payment system from national road associations’ TIR carnet fees, was dismissed from his post in January. Yesterday, he delivered a complaint numbering 343 pages to Swiss prosecutors, which he claims provides evidence of “grave criminal acts committed from 1 June 2013”.

There appears to be no direct suggestion in the complaint that either secretary general Umberto de Pretto or chief operating officer Boris Blanche personally profited from the funds not being returned to IRU members. But in a letter to the IRU general assembly, which met in Geneva today, Mr Retelski outlined three key areas in which he alleges the executives broke the law.

Firstly, there is a sum of Sfr93m, which came from a “secret retro-commission from member associations’ insurance contracts, through which 40% of the national premium was subsequently returned to a shadow company”. Mr Retelski claimed Mr de Pretto refused to notify member associations of the money, or return it to them.

Among the list of members that The Loadstar understands are owed through this scheme, are the UK’s Road Haulage Association (RHA) (Sfr139,500) and Freight Transport Association (Sfr111,600), while the single largest amount is said to be owed to Turkey’s TOBB organisation, whihc is the world’s largest user of the TIR system and is owned just under Sfr16m.

Secondly, according to Mr Retelski, there is Sfr56.7m, made up of profit commissions from global insurance premiums paid by IRU members to Zurich and AXA.

“These profit commissions come from the insurance premium included in the TIR Carnets price paid exclusively by TIR associations to IRU, starting from 1995. Consequently, these amounts are legally due to the associations having issued these specific carnets,” noted Mr Retelski’s letter, a copy of which was passed to The Loadstar.

Lastly, he claimed Mr Blanche hid a 2014 analysis, undertaken by Deloitte, into the IRU’s funding requirements in the context of the TIR Carnet issuance activities, in which the consultant concluded that the IRU’s reserves had a surplus of  Sfr409m.

Mr Retelski alleged the report was hidden from both IRU members and its presidential executive, and requested Deloitte write a new study, “using financial statements different to those provided to the United Nations and justifying new increases of its reserves by comparing IRU to a bank”.

The claims were forwarded to IRU members last night. Mr Retelski concluded by asking members to “take immediate and decisive action” at today’s general assembly, “in order to dismiss and prosecute these individuals”.

He wrote: “I am also confident that the sums illegally taken from IRU members will soon be returned, for the benefits of our industry, hopefully without resorting to long civil actions against the individuals in questions, who are personally liable for financial decisions, as acknowledged by the signatories of IRU document AG/4298/UDP dated 1 April 2016.”

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