BiH: Police Arrest Two Ministers, Others in Corruption Raid
Police officers from the State Investigation and Protection Agency (SIPA) arrested 11 people Sept. 10 on suspicion of organized crime, money laundering and tax evasion, according the the SIPA website.
In the operation code-named “Brend,” police raided 17 areas in Sarajevo and in the southwestern cities of Mostar, Siroki Brijeg and Grude in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH).
Local media reports that among those arrested are Milorad Bahilj, the Minister of Trade of the Federation of FBiH (FBiH), Jerko Lijanovic, the FBiH Minister of Agriculture, Water Management and Forestry, and his brother Mladen Ivankovic Lijanovic, the president of the “People’s Party Work for Betterment” political party.
SIPA said that members of this organized crime group illegally made more than US$ 7.6 million by forming several phony companies that ran up huge tax debts that were not paid when the companies were closed. The companies dealt with the import, production and processing of meat.
The BiH Prosecutor’s Office said that the multi-million dollar scam damaged the budget of BiH and the citizens of the country.
SIPA only identifies those arrested by initials, but the BiH Prosecutor’s Office has published a list of the three businesses that were raided, along with the names of the owners and associates. A Lijanovic family-run business in Siroki Brijeg was raided, and seven of the suspects were named Lijanovic.
The police raid and arrests were carried out on the order of the BiH Court and the BiH Prosecutor’s Office in cooperation with members of the BiH Indirect Taxation Authority, Ministries of Interior of the Herzegovina-Neretva Canton and the West Herzegovina Canton, SIPA said.