US sanctions Bosnian minister in anti-corruption effort

FILE - The Treasury Building is viewed in Washington, May 4, 2021. The U.S. government has imposed sanctions on a Bosnian state prosecutor who is accused of being complicit in corruption and undermining democratic processes or institutions in the Western Balkans. The Treasury Department says its Office of Foreign Assets Control designated Diana Kajmakovic for sanctions. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky, File) (Patrick Semansky, Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

WASHINGTON – The U.S. government imposed sanctions Monday on the head of Bosnia’s autonomous Bosniak-Croat Federation and others, acting less than a week after it levied sanctions on a state prosecutor accused of being complicit in corruption and undermining democratic processes in the Western Balkans.

The Treasury Department said its Office of Foreign Assets Control designated sanctions Monday against Prime Minister Fadil Novalic, saying he misused pensioner data acquired through his official position in the week before the 2018 elections. Novalic allegedly used pensioner data to send out letters listing his accomplishments and promised increased pensions.

The new sanctions come after state prosecutor Diana Kajmakovic, whom Treasury called a “ brazenly corrupt state prosecutor with links to criminal organizations," was designated for sanctions last week.

Additionally, Bosnian tycoon Slobodan Stankovic and his engineering firm, Integral Inzenjering A.D. Laktasi, were sanctioned for allegedly having links to construction sector corruption.

The Treasury Department said major construction projects are often handed to Stankovic's firm without fair and open competition and that the vast majority of Stankovic’s wealth comes from public money.

The U.S. government relies on an executive order signed by President Joe Biden as its authority to impose sanctions. The order addresses people who threaten international stabilization efforts in the Western Balkans.

“Today’s action underscores how politicians in Bosnia and Herzegovina are undermining democratic institutions and processes for their own political gain and to reward their patronage networks,” Brian Nelson, Treasury’s undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, said in a statement.

“We will continue to target those that destabilize the region, as well as their supporters, and hold them to account.”