Osman Mehmedagic formerly headed Bosnia's intelligence and security agency. (file photo)
The former director of Bosnia-Herzegovina’s intelligence and security agency has been designated for U.S. sanctions along with two other individuals associated with the Balkan country in connection with alleged corruption.
The U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) on March 15 announced the sanctions against Osman Mehmedagic, the former head of the Intelligence Security Agency (OSA); Dragan Stankovic, identified by the United States as the director of the Republika Srpska agency responsible for real estate law; and Edin Gacanin, an alleged drugs trafficker and money launderer. “The three individuals designated today constitute a threat to regional stability, institutional trust, and the aspirations of those seeking democratic governance in the Western Balkans,” said Brian Nelson, the U.S. Treasury Department's undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, in a statement .
“The United States will continue to target those who perpetuate corruption and undermine the postwar agreements and institutions established as part of the hard-won Dayton Peace Agreement,” Nelson added. Mehmedagic used state-owned telecommunications company BH Telecom for the benefit of his political party, the Party of Democratic Action (SDA), U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement.
Mehmedagic used the company to collect cellular activity on Bosnian politicians not affiliated with the SDA and instructed one person to follow a government official connected to the opposition party of the Republika Srpska entity, OFAC said. Blinken said there is also “credible information” that Mehmedagic collaborated with criminal networks for personal and party enrichment. “This activity reflects a larger pattern of behavior by Mehmedagic and SDA to use positions of authority for personal and party gain,” Blinken said. Mehmedagic was involved in numerous scandals during his mandate for which he was previously arrested, prosecuted, and acquitted. Stankovic is the director of the Republika Srpska Administration for Geodetic and Property Affairs, the agency responsible for a law on immovable property in Republika Srpska that was imposed last year and which directly challenged Bosnia’s constitutional order, undermining the Dayton peace accords, according to the OFAC. The property law was a "blatant attempt" to usurp Bosnian state authority over state property located in Republika Srpska in violation of Constitutional Court and other legal decisions, Blinken said. Blinken and the OFAC said Gacanin is a Bosnian national who is one of the world’s most notorious and prolific narcotics traffickers and money launderers. Gacanin, a native of Sarajevo, is the leader of the Tito and Dino Cartel, which includes his family members and his Bosnian friends, according to the United States. In addition to narcotics trafficking efforts across multiple countries, Gacanin’s cartel is involved in money laundering and is closely linked to the Kinahan Organized Crime Group , a criminal organization previously designated by the OFAC for sanctions.
The sanctions freeze any property held in U.S. jurisdiction by the three individuals. In addition, people in the United States who engage in transactions with the individuals designated may themselves be exposed to sanctions, the Treasury Department said.