Bosnia Sends Ex Head of Tax Agency to Jail for Corruption

Published: 01 June 2021

Kemal Čaušević CIN

Former Director of Bosnia and Herzegovina's Tax Authority, Kemal Čaušević, jailed for corruption. (Photo: CIN)

By Zdravko Ljubas

A court in Bosnia and Herzegovina sentenced the former head of the country’s Indirect Taxation Authority (ITA BiH) to nine years for his role in a bribery scheme that, according to authorities, deprived the state budget of over US$1 billion over a five-year period.

Kemal Čaušević was found guilty last week of corruption and money laundering. The court ordered real estate worth at least 1.7 million convertible marks ($1.06 million) - the amount he was found to have received in bribes - to be confiscated.

As ITA BiH first director, serving from 2005 to 2011, Čaušević conspired with some of the importers of large quantities of textile from Turkey, China and Hungary and promised them “preferential treatment during the import for their companies,” according to his 2017 indictment.

Preferential treatment meant reduced amounts subject to customs clearance, avoiding detailed inspections and accepting invoices for which he knew to contain inaccurate data. In return, Čaušević requested the importers to pay him 1,000 Bosnian convertible marks ($623) per truck.

After investigating the case for years, law enforcement agencies arrested 53 people, including Čaušević, in June 2014. Among the suspects were other employees of the ITA BiH and Bosnia and Herzegovina’s Customs.

More than 300 officers were involved in the operation called Pandora. Čaušević’s successor, Miro Džakula, said back then that the country “lost more than $1 billion from 2006 to 2011 due to illegal actions by employees of ITA BiH.”

The owner of one of the companies involved in the scheme was sentenced to two years in prison for giving bribes while another is being processed.