CHICAGO–A dispute spanning 70 years of alleged usurpation, trespass, and illegal conversion of private property rights in Serbia came to a crossroads in a lawsuit filed today by the heirs of two prominent Serbian families. The lawsuit asserts that Minnesota-based Carlson has refused to recognize or even discuss the families’ claims of ownership of property now being managed by Carlson in the heart of Belgrade, Serbia.
Carlson Hotels, an international hospitality organization, while proclaiming core values of integrity and transparency, purportedly, according to the suit, refuses to disclose who it believes owns the rights to the property upon which it operates a five star international hotel.
According to the complaint which was filed in Illinois Federal Court, the families once owned the ‘Old Mill’ property, which sits in what is now one of the most valuable areas of Belgrade. The complaint provides that the property was forcibly confiscated from the Veljkovic and Dimic families after World War II, as part of a communist property grab in Yugoslavia and was later transferred to developers in a corrupt scheme orchestrated by the Slobodan Milosevic regime in the 1990s.
In 2009, a District Court in Serbia ruled, based on the rehabilitation of the Veljkovic family members, that all previous decisions pertaining to the families’ confiscated properties were null and void.
Despite this ruling and attempted interventions by U.S. and the European Parliament officials, the property is now the site of a new, multi-million dollar Radisson-Blu Hotel complex, operated by Carlson, the parent company of Radisson Hotels. According to the complaint, Carlson has allegedly refused to delay the hotel’s development and operation despite the Veljkovic and Dimic families’ rightful ownership of the property, and has disavowed itself of all responsibility relating to ownership disputes over the property.
“As our complaint explains, the Serbian Court has already ruled that all decisions regarding my family’s confiscated properties were null and void, yet Carlson still intends to profit illegally from our private assets.” said Alexis Veljkovic, an American citizen and heir to one of the original owners of the Old Mill.
With the hotel fully operational, the families are seeking fair compensation from Carlson.
The Plaintiffs are represented by Robert Pavich, Ian Levin and John Pavich of Pavich Law Group, P.C.; Walid J. Tamari of Tamari Law Group, LLC and Charles Zimmerman of Zimmerman Reed, PLLP.
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