SARAJEVO (Reuters) - Bosnia’s state prosecutor on Tuesday charged 16 people, including two former senior regional officials, with links to organised crime, money laundering and tax evasion to the tune of more than $7 million (4.7 million pounds).
Corruption is rife in Bosnia 20 years after a 1992-95 war that was halted by a peace deal creating a highly-decentralised system of power-sharing that critics say has helped foster networks of political patronage and graft.
Bosnia is under pressure to do more to root out corruption if it is to make progress towards integration with the European Union.
“The suspects are charged with having made unlawful gains from 2007 to 2012 of more than 13.5 million marka by setting up a number of firms that ran up huge tax debts and were later closed without paying them,” the prosecutor’s office said in a statement.
“Shortly afterwards they continued to operate by setting up new businesses and by transferring to them equipment, products and raw materials from old companies,” it added. The firms dealt with the import and processing of meat.
Among the suspects are Jerko Ivankovic Lijanovic and Milorad Bahilj, who at the time headed the agriculture and trade ministries of the government of Bosnia’s autonomous Bosniak-Croat Federation, the office said.
Reporting by Maja Zuvela; Editing by Matt Robinson/Ruth Pitchford