Bosnian Serb politician Nikola Špirić has been blacklisted by the United States due to his alleged involvement in “significant corruption,” the US State Department said in a statement on Monday.
It is alleged that Špirić “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.”
He and members of his immediate family are now prohibited from entering the United States.
The State Department notes that the decision was made under Article 7031 (c) of the Law on State, Foreign and Related Programs of 2018.
According to this law, in cases where the US Secretary of State has credible information about the involvement of foreign officials in extensive corruption or serious human rights violations, such individuals, as well as members of their families, are not eligible to enter the United States.
Denying the allegations Špirić, who belongs to the governing Alliance of Independent Social Democrats (SNSD), told Bosnian media: “I feel proud because this shows how much the people who don’t like Republika Srpska and my Serb people see me as an obstacle to their goals.” Špirić went on to accuse the US of attempting to interfere in the upcoming elections and siding with the opposition bloc in Republika Srpska led by the Serbian Democratic Party (SDS).
Špirić’s party chief Milorad Dodik, who was himself sanctioned by the US administration in January 2017 for obstructing the implementation of the Dayton Accords that ended the war in Bosnia in 1995, said that the sanctions on his close associate are driven by a personal vendetta of outgoing US ambassador to Bosnia and Herzegovina, Maureen Cormack.
Referring to her as Soros’s ambassador, in reference to the Hungarian-American financier, Dodik said: “I have to say that I see this as the last joke of Soros’s ambassador leaving the scene,” adding that it would not hurt him in the campaign and that he was confident of winning the elections in October.