A trial to Kemal Čaušević, a former director of the Indirect Taxation Authority of Bosnia and Herzegovina (BIH) and businessmen Anes Sadiković and Sedinet Karić has begun before the Court of BiH with the reading of indictment and opening statements.
Before the trial opened the prosecutors reached a plea bargain with Karić subject to court approval during the following week. If the Court upholds the agreement, Karić will testify as the prosecutor’s lead defendant.
According to the, in 2007, Čaušević got in touch with Sadiković and Karić, the owners of companies which imported textile from Turkey, China and Hungary. Čaušević offered preferential treatment to their companies, i.e. no detailed inspections of cargo, and customs would clear importers’ fake invoices or make them smaller in value.
In exchange, Čaušević asked Sadiković and Karić to pay him 1,000 KM per each truckload of goods. Between 2007 and 2011, Sadikovićs’ and Karićs’ companies imported more than 1,700 truckloads of textile. According to the indictment, the two have paid Čaušević 1.72 million KM in all.
The indictment describes how Čaušević invested illicit gains into legal economy by buying a number of worth around 1.2 million KM, in and around Sarajevo.
Čaušević’s attorney Asim Crnalić said that defense would prove how much money Čaušević earned and that there had been no preferential treatment for the firms listed in the indictment compared to others.
“The defense will prove that Čaušević legally earned over 400,000 KM more in the said period than was the value of real property for which the Prosecutor’s Office claimed that he had obtained them through money laundering,” said Crnalić.
The UIO’s former director is also charged with abuse of office in relation to a public bid for printing revenue tags. Čaušević approved a 200,000 KM restitution to a complaining bidder, Glas Srpski” – Grafika AD Banja Luka, even though there were no grounds for it as no damage had been done.
Crnalić said that during detention Čaušević reached a preliminary plea bargain with the prosecutors, but after that no one has got back to the defense counsel. Some details from the agreement were published in media said Crnalić, which endangered his client because he mentioned a number of office holders and the members of the BiH Presidency in his testimony.
“The defense expected that the Prosecutor’s Office would stick to our agreement, all the while the Prosecutor’s Office neither stuck to the agreement, nor had informed the defense that what Čaušević said was not truth…That they did not do — instead they wrote this indictment,” said Crnalić.
In 2013, the Center for Investigative Reporting in Sarajevo published a story about Čauševićs’ assets – over seven years he bought nine apartments and offices and 20,000 square meters of land. During that time his combined income was not nearly sufficient to account for the investments he made. After the story was published, the Court of BiH froze eleven properties
In the beginning of the trial, judge Biljana Ćuković asked Čaušević what was the status of his assets. “Undefined. If it were not for this, it would have been great, “ he said.
Čaušević was arrested in June 2014. Following arrest, the Court of BiH placed him in detention for three months. In February 2017, the BiH Prosecutor’s Office filled the indictment against him.