A former Bosnian office holder, Jerko Ivanković Lijanović, has wasted taxpayer money to enrich himself, advance family business and strengthen his political party, found a several years long investigation by the Center for Investigative Reporting in Sarajevo (CIN).
CIN reporters combed publicly-available documents and court records and conducted hundreds of interviews to uncover how Ivanković-Lijanović funneled millions of euros of public money to his accounts, connected firms and party members.
Before entering high politics Ivankvić-Lijanović managed meat industry Lijanovići together with his father and four brothers. There were allegations that the firm evaded paying taxes and custom duties on meat imports. The family members were prosecuted before the State Court on charges of bribing members of the state executive and legislative branch to evade paying taxes, but eventually they were acquitted.
However, under the pressure of investigations for tax evasion, the family firm’s debts piled up and it was having ever harder time doing business. Two brothers Jerko and Mladen Ivanković-Lijanović ventured into politics in 2001 when they established People’s Party Work for Betterment. In 2006 elections they won seats in the state parliament. Four years later Jerko Ivanković Lijanović joined the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina’s cabinet as vice-prime minister, while simultaneously holding the position of agricultural minister.
CIN reporters uncovered that Lijanović came into power promising to pay every vote €50. When he became the minister, he increased agricultural subsidies and used that money to reward his voters.
The reporters found that he also used the subsidies to finance firms who were connected to him.
While he was the vice-president, he gave money for emergency and unanticipated events to his party colleagues. With public money he also bankrolled his personal advertising campaign Buy Local. From billboards, Lijanović called on the population to buy local products featuring a heart that’s the logo of his political party.
He was assisted in this by his party members whom he had strategically positioned in government departments as advisers or in other influential positions lasting for a term. Some of them were appointed to public companies such as a state-owned power utility. Thanks to this, the companies connected with the family have not been paying electricity bills incurring a combined debt worth half million euros.
After the publication of CIN’s stories accompanied with photos, records, graphics and databases, the police arrested and opened investigation against Jerko Ivanković Lijanović and several of his aids. He is currently in custody on charges of abuse of office. There’s been another investigation against him for tax evasion.
The Center for Investigative Reporting (CIN) in Sarajevo is unique in Bosnia and Herzegovina, the first organization of its kind to be established in Balkans. CIN is dedicated to investigative reporting, aimed toward providing fair and unbiased information, based on evidences and solid proof, to BiH citizens who need to make educated decisions.
Our work focuses on organized crime and corruption and the negative effect they have on the lives of ordinary citizens. We put out investigative projects and stories on topics that include education, health, sports, employment, politics, illegal trading in tobacco and drugs, illegal drugs and documents, and financial fraud.
The center cooperates with a number of distinguished media outlets world-wide and its stories have appeared in print form in the Guardian, Time, Der Spiegel, Washington Post, and on radio and TV stations including ZDF, BBC, and Deutsche Welle. CIN work is regularly published by the most prominent media outlets of Serbia, Croatia and Montenegro. In addition, they are distributed through Radio Free Europe / TV Liberty. CIN has done much work with one of the leading associations of investigative journalists in the world – the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists.
The Center for investigative reporting