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Operation "Pandora": Kemal Čaušević arrested

Source: CIN, 6/18/2014 9:57:57 AM

Kemal Čaušević, former Director of the Indirect Taxation Authority (ITA) Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH), was arrested this morning in the police operation called "Pandora", along with other 53 people. Among those arrested was 30 members of the ITA and the customs terminal, confirmed the State Prosecutor's Office.

The press release states that Čaušević and the others arrested are under investigation for corruption and organized crime, customs and tax evasion, money laundering and abuse of office in connection with the importation of textile and other goods to BiH.

The operation is carried out in several cities in BiH by order of the Prosecutor's Office BiH, and it arose from the earlier operation of the State Investigation and Protection Agency (SIPA) known as "Bos", "Ellipsa" and "Master".

Judging on the knowledge available to the Prosecution, the suspects have made illegal profits and gained valuable assets. The investigation is carried out with the aim of identifying and forfeiture of illegally obtained property in multimillion amounts, according to the press release of the Prosecution.

Center for Investigative Reporting (CIR) from Sarajevo published at the end of April last year the story about the property owned by Kemal Čausevic, who bought over the seven years nine apartments and commercial spaces, and 20 acres of land, whereas his income was not able to cover the purchase of the expensive real estate.

After CIR broke the story, the Court BiH blocked eleven properties owned by Čauševi. The decision of the Court then stated that several investigations for abuse of office and authority were ongoing.

CIR has revealed that with revenue of 576.000 KM, which is Čaušević received as wages and benefits, he was not able to cover the investment in the property worth 1.080.000 KM.

As SIPA stated, the operation "Pandora", which began last night, is the largest and most complex operation in the fight against financial crime and corruption in BiH. It included more than 300 police officers.

They searched the buildings at about 40 locations in Sarajevo, Ilidža, East Sarajevo, Ilijaš, Kiseljak, Tuzla, Brčko, Gradačac, Srebrenik, Doboj, Doboj-Jug, Tešanj, Čelić, Banja Luka, Brod, Gradiška, Kozarska Dubica, Čelinac, Kotor Varoš, Derventa, Prijedor, Bihać, Bijeljina and Zvornik. The raids also covered the official premises of ITA BiH.

The prosecution said that the prosecution team with investigators and collaborators had conducted a detailed and thorough investigation for more than eight months.

SIPA report against Čaušević

In the report addressed to the Prosecutor's Office in early 2011, SIPA stated that Čaušević played an important role in covering up irregularities in the import of textiles for years.

In these jobs, due to the evasion of customs duties and VAT, the state budget was damaged by at least 6 million KM. According to the SIPA report, Čaušević and other employees of the ITA allowed imports of textiles with false declarations of origin.

Several companies imported Chinese textiles and other products with documentation that falsely showed that the goods originated from Turkey. They filed these documents to avoid payment of customs duties and tax because, under the Agreement on Trade Cooperation, textile imports from Turkey are exempt from customs duties. In this way, the suspect ITA employees and these companies gained substantial material benefits, the report states.

Čaušević was charged with preventing certain ITA employees from subsequent charging of customs and tax duties.

The document mentions the case of Edina Cernica, head of Customs Office of the ITA in Sarajevo, who subsequently tried to collect customs duties. Cernica requested in 2005 and 2006 from the competent institutions from Turkey the authentication certificate EUR 1, i.e. the certificate of origin. However, before this process was completed, Čaušević replaced him and assigned him to other tasks. He appointed another officer in this position who stopped the billing process.

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