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High-level corruption cases in the Western Balkans and Turkey

Agricultural grants and subsidies (Lijanovići II) - High-level corruption cases in the Western Balkans and Turkey

Agricultural grants and subsidies (Lijanovići II)

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Introduction

During his time as minister of agriculture of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Jerko Ivanković-Lijanović allocated federal agriculture grants and subsidies to farmers on condition that they return half of the sum to a group headed by Ivanković-Lijanović and his four associates (see here, here and here).

Country
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Sector
Agriculture
Offence
Abuse of official position or authority
Phase
2nd instance verdict

Description of the case

During his time as minister of agriculture of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Jerko Ivanković-Lijanović allocated federal agriculture grants and subsidies to farmers on condition that they return half of the sum to a group headed by Ivanković-Lijanović and his four associates (see here, here and here).

Four members of the People's Party for Work and Betterment (NSRZB) – Mersed Šerifović (the party’s vice-president and the president of the party’s Cantonal Board in Tuzla), Edin Ajanović (former minister of agriculture, water management and forestry in the government of Tuzla Canton, and at that time minister for trade, tourism and transport in the same government) as well as Ivanković-Lijanović’s advisors Stipo Šakić and Suad Čamdžić – extorted the money from the farmers and split the funds between themselves and Ivanković-Lijanović. The total amount illegally acquired is estimated to be 652,000 KM (approximately €334,000) (see here and here).

Farmers who either refused to pay or stopped paying money were subsequently denied grants (see here). Ivanković-Lijanović also gave grants to firms connected to his family. Over three years, the ministry’s budget paid 2.7 million KM (more than €1.3 million) in export grants to the companies ZD.I. Produkt and Alpen – Mit (see here, here and here).

As the Center for Investigative Reporting revealed, officials from the Indirect Taxation Authority of Bosnia and Herzegovina alleged that members of Ivanković-Lijanović’s family set up these firms in order to evade paying value added tax and that they used these firms to continue their meat-processing business when the accounts of their previous company were frozen because of unpaid tax obligations. All of their companies worked at the same facilities of the Lijanovići Meat Industry, employed the same workforce and used the same equipment and goods (see here).

In a ruling on 16 January 2018, the Cantonal Court of Tuzla found all five defendants guilty. An appeal was lodged with the Supreme Court of Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina (Federation of BiH), which confirmed the guilty verdict for Ivanković-Lijanović, but reduced his prison sentence. The verdict for Šakić remained unchanged. The other three defendants had already pleaded guilty.