US imposes sanctions targeting Bosnian Serb leader Dodik's network of firms

Russia's President Putin and Serb Republic's President Dodik meet in St Petersburg

SARAJEVO (Reuters) - The United States on Tuesday imposed sanctions on two individuals and a network of companies generating wealth for Bosnian Serb nationalist leader Milorad Dodik and his family, the U.S. Treasury Department said in a statement.

Dodik, the pro-Russian president of the autonomous Serb Republic who has long advocated the region's secession from Bosnia, is already under U.S. and UK sanctions.

Last October, Washington imposed sanctions against his two adult children - son Igor Dodik and daughter Gorica Dodik - and their companies, saying they facilitated the Bosnian Serb leader's ongoing corruption.

The U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) said Dodik has used his official position to accumulate personal wealth through seven companies linked to himself and to Igor Dodik, who controls the firms officially run by individuals loyal to him.

The office imposed sanctions on Djordje Djuric, owner of Infinity and its subsidiaries, and Milenko Cicic, the general director of Kaldera.

OFAC gave an example of Dodik using state government officials from his party to manipulate the 2024 draft state budget and award a state-level contract to Prointer ITSS d.o.o. Banja Luka Clan Infinity International Group - an entity in the network of his companies - outside of the competitive process.

“The United States condemns Dodik’s continued efforts to erode the institutions that have ensured peace and stability for Bosnia and Herzegovina and the region,” said Brian Nelson, the Under Secretary of the Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence.

“We will continue to expose the fraudulent schemes that enable Dodik and his family to exploit their own people for their personal benefit,” he added.

The United States says Dodik has undermined the 1995 Dayton Peace Agreement. The accords ended the 1992-1995 Bosnian war in which 100,000 were killed, dividing the country into two autonomous regions, the Serb Republic and the Bosniak-Croat Federation, linked via a weak central government.

Over the past several years, Dodik has intensified his secessionist rhetoric, hoping that Russia, Serbia and Hungary would back him up.

(Reporting by Daria Sito-Sucic; Editing by Rod Nickel)