Bank loan

Bosnian Serb leader denies wrongdoing over bank loan

The current president and Serbian member of the tripartite presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Milorad Dodik, has denied allegations of corruption regarding his purchase of a villa in 2007.Photo: EPA-EFE/SZILARD KOSZTICSAK HUNGARY OUT

Bosnian Serb leader Milorad Dodik on Tuesday reiterated his denial of allegations that he received a fictitious loan from a friendly bank to buy an expensive villa, after being questioned by Bosnian prosecutors.

The case dates back to 2016, when it was alleged that bank Pavlovic Banka gave Dodik a false mortgage to enable the purchase of the property, in order to hide the true origin of the money.

Dodik, a member of the Bosnian State Presidency and political head of the Bosnian Serb-led entity Republika Srpska, RS, has always maintained that the loan was genuine and that he repaid most of it .

He said he obeyed the summons to the hearing to avoid speculation, but reiterated his claim that he was under no obligation to attend because, in the eyes of the RS, the state “The Prosecutor’s Office and the Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina are unconstitutional categories”. . He added: “Everything will fall because of [its] unconstitutionality and illegality”.

“I completely deny everything presented there. I was presented with something that happened 17 years ago, with a totally false premise,” he said.

Dodik reiterated that in 2007 he made a legitimate loan with Pavlovic Banka worth 1,468,000 Bosnian marks to buy the property in Belgrade, adding that the following year the terms of the loan were changed, he therefore entered into a new contract.

He said he paid the installments of the loan from the rent he received from two other apartments, which he later sold, but also from his salary and other “legal income”. He said he was still repaying the loan.

Dodik said he was called as a suspect and witness in this case only, and there was no mention of other cases, citing the prosecution’s hearing records.

“Regarding the minutes… It says, ‘using my own official position as President of the RS Government’, I opened an account at Palovic Banka on May 14. This is my abuse of power,” Dodik said, citing the document.

Dodik also said he had postponed the hearing due to a previous official trip and had now scheduled the press conference because he wanted to answer all questions.

The prosecution did not respond to questions from BIRN about the circumstances of the hearing at the time of publication, or whether he had been asked about reports of genocide denial.

The Center for Investigative Journalism in Bosnia and Herzegovina, CIN BiH, first reported its claims of a troubled loan in 2009.

But Dodik again accused CIN BiH of spreading lies. “Based on your lie, the Center for Investigations lie, this whole story [about the fake loan] was composed. It is an absolute lie. The villa was purchased with a loan originally approved by Pavlovic Banka, and that money was transferred,” he said.