Hidden Apartment of Asim Sarajlić on The Adriatic

State delegate Asim Sarajlić failed to declare in his asset declaration an apartment he has on the Croatian coast in the tourist town of Žaborić near Šibenik.

In late 2018, Asim Sarajlić, delegate to the House of Peoples of the Parliamentary Assembly of Bosnia and Herzegovina (PABiH), bought a three-bedroom apartment for almost BAM 137,000 in the town of Žaborić, Croatia, known for its beautiful beaches, pine forests and olive groves, which is located some ten kilometers from Šibenik.

The 50.5-square-meter apartment is located on the ground floor of a new three-story building about three hundred meters from the beach.

Although Sarajlić was obliged to report this property in the asset declaration he submitted to the Central Election Commission (CEC) when he became a delegate in the State Parliament in February 2019, he failed to do so.

“I didn’t even know if the registration process was over, so I didn’t report it,” said Sarajlić who claims to have been paying the property in monthly installments until the end of 2020.

According to the BiH Election Law, nominees and elected officials must report to the Central Election Commission (CEC)  their income from the previous year and all property belonging to them and their close family members valued upwards of BAM 5,000. The CEC does not check the content of asset declaration reports nor does it impose any sanction for incomplete or false declaration of assets.

“Tomorrow or the day after tomorrow, I will update the asset declaration report with the CEC,” Sarajlić said to the CIN journalist who asked him about this property.

He bought the apartment from Omar Kokanović, an employee of the Securities Commission of the Federation of BiH (FBiH) and a former executive director of the brokerage firm “Eurohaus”. According to the Sarajevo Canton Prosecutor’s Office, Kokanović was one of the closest associates of Zijad Blekić, the former owner and director of the company, who is being tried at the Sarajevo Cantonal Court for money laundering and economic fraud. Kokanović told reporters that he was a witness in the case.

When asked by journalists how it came about to sell the apartment to Sarajlić, he said: “To say that I am a friend of his, I am not. But we have known each other for maybe seven, eight, nine years.”

Sarajlić’s apartment on the Adriatic coast was registered in 2019 in the land register of the Municipal Court in Šibenik (Photo: Google maps)

Sarajlić is a longtime official and member of the Party of Democratic Action (SDA). He lives in Vogošća in a 131-square-meter apartment. In this Municipality he also owns two garages and co-owns a family house and land. He has a property where he can spend the winter holidays – an apartment on Sarajevo’s Bjelašnica Mountain, which he bought in 2015. Sarajlić reported these properties in the asset declaration report, estimating them at BAM 432,500.

He also reported driving a 2018 Audi Q7 worth BAM 120,000, while his wife Emina drives a year younger Toyota C-HR Hybrid worth BAM 30,000. They have savings of almost BAM 40,000.

In 2020, CIN wrote about Sarajlić failing to report in his asset declaration the garages he owns in Vogošća. Following the interview with the reporters, he added these properties to his asset declaration.

Politicians Conceal Yachts, Condos, Offices and Land

Sarajlić’s assets grew as he progressed in his political career. From 2004 to 2010 he was the mayor of Vogošća. In his first term as mayor, he reported only shares worth BAM 21,000. After that, the citizens twice gave him confidence in the general elections, electing him a member of the House of Representatives of the BiH Parliament. In the 2018 General Elections, he was elected a deputy of the FBiH Parliament, from where he was delegated to the House of Peoples of the FBiH. He makes a little more than BAM 5,000 a month.

Two criminal proceedings are pending against Sarajlić. In March 2017, the Cantonal Prosecutor’s Office of the Sarajevo Canton accused him of abusing the position of a high-ranking SDA official to mediate in illegal employment in the Public Company “Elektroprivreda Bosne i Hercegovine”. Four years later, he was accused of giving gifts during the internal party elections.

The United States of America (USA) imposed sanctions on him in April 2022 for abusing his position, influence peddling, accepting bribes, and undermining the democratic process in BiH. He was banned from entering the United States and using or accessing any assets he may have in this country. He was designated as one of the actors engaged in destabilizing behavior in the Western Balkans”.

After that, he resigned from three positions in the BiH Parliament but retained the position of a delegate. He was the head of the Bosniak Club in that Chamber, the chairman of the Joint Commission for Defense and Security, and the chairman of the PABiH Delegation to the Parliamentary Assembly of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).