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U.S. Blacklists Bosnian Serb Over Involvement In 'Significant' Corruption

Nikola Spiric speaks in the House of Representatives in Sarajevo in December 2014.
Nikola Spiric speaks in the House of Representatives in Sarajevo in December 2014.

The United States has imposed sanctions on Nikola Spiric, an ethnic Serb deputy in Bosnia's national parliament, over what the State Department says is his involvement in "significant" corruption.

"Mr. Spiric engaged in and benefited from public corruption, including the acceptance of improper benefits in exchange for the performance of public functions and interference with public processes, during his tenure as a member of the House of Representatives in Bosnia and Herzegovina," the State Department said in a statement issued on September 10.

The statement said that in addition to the designation of Spiric, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was also publicly designating Spiric's wife, Nada Spiric, his son, Aleksandar Spiric, and his daughter, Jovana Spiric.

The sanctions are being imposed under Section 7031(c), a provision that enables the secretary of state to bar foreign officials and their immediate families from entry to the United States if there is "credible information that [the officials] have been involved in significant corruption or gross violations of human rights."

Spiric, who has been investigated for corruption by state prosecutors but never indicted, has dismissed the graft allegations.

"I have always answered to my people and was always at the disposal of all investigative and judicial institutions in my country," he was quoted as saying a statement to Bosnian Serb news agency Srna.

Spiric, a former prime minister of Bosnia, is the vice president of the Republika Srpska's ruling SNSD party, whose president, Bosnian Serb nationalist Milorad Dodik, was also sanctioned by the United States in 2016 for actively obstructing efforts to implement the 1995 Dayton accords that ended the war in Bosnia-Herzegovina.

With reporting by Reuters

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