Exposing Disinformation-for-Hire: A Serbian Minister, Opposition Figure, and the Israeli Operative
Mar 24, 2023, from OCCRP
A media campaign targeted ex-Belgrade mayor Dragan Đilas with support from the pro-government faction. The campaign was based on a "global bank scan" report acquired by reporters. It is likely that the disinformation group 'Team Jorge' produced the report that Serbian officials used. Tal Hanan, the leader of 'Team Jorge,' has previously been investigated for selling falsified financial intelligence to a Swiss spy for $88,000.
In 2021, Serbian finance minister Siniša Mali presented a report on TV alleging that opposition figure Dragan Ɖilas held offshore accounts filled with stolen money. Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić made similar allegations against Ɖilas. OCCRP and its partners obtained a copy of Mali's report and discovered that it closely resembled a disinformation report pitched by Hanan as part of his disinformation-for-hire services. Two sources confirmed that Hanan was hired to produce the report on Ɖilas.
This report was part of a broader pro-government media frenzy surrounding Ɖilas's alleged offshore accounts in Serbia. Pro-government outlet Večernje Novosti used the report to claim that Ɖilas held accounts in Mauritius and Switzerland. However, the OCCRP investigation confirmed that neither of these accounts existed.
Ɖilas denied ever holding offshore accounts and pointed out inconsistencies in the alleged bank statements when contacted by OCCRP partner @KRIKrs. He noted that the statements had the same format, despite supposedly coming from different banks. Ɖilas suspects that the Serbian government was behind the reports.