The United States will not hesitate to hold actors in Bosnia and Herzegovina accountable for their destabilising actions and perpetuation of corruption, regardless of political affiliation, Acting Assistant Secretary of the US Department of the Treasury, Paul Ahern, said during his two-day visit to Sarajevo.
“Treasury can, and will, use all tools at its disposal to counter corrupt actors who jeopardize the future of Bosnia and Herzegovina and its citizens,” said Ahern.
He met with key Bosnian leaders to underscore the risk to Bosnia and Herzegovina’s investment climate and citizen confidence “should it fail to enact crucial money laundering and terrorist financing reforms and take serious steps to root out corruption,” according to the statement issued by US Embassy's Press Office.
Ahern also paid visit to other countries in the region to discuss the threat that corruption poses to the stability and prosperity of the Western Balkans, and to BiH in particular.
In meetings with the Chairman of the Bosnian Council of Ministers Zoran Tegeltija, Finance Minister Vjekoslav Bevanda, and Security Minister Selmo Cikotic, Ahern was informed about the challenges Bosnia and Herzegovina faces as it undertakes preparations for its 5th round MONEYVAL mutual evaluation under the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) standards.
He stressed that Bosnia needs to take “swift action to strengthen its anti-money laundering/combatting the financing of terrorism regime or it could fall back onto the FATF ‘grey list’.”
He urged BiH to demonstrate to MONEYVAL, not just a new law, but the implementation of an effective regime capable of combatting money laundering and terrorist financing.
“Without reforms, investors and financial institutions may be deterred from doing business with BiH. The United States government supports the citizens of BiH as they seek a government that enables a more prosperous future – one free from corruption where citizens have ample economic opportunities,” the statement stressed.
Combatting corruption is a national security priority for President Biden and his administration, as highlighted by the recent release of the US Strategy to Counter Corruption. The President, via Executive Order 14033, also recently expanded U.S. sanctions authorities in the Western Balkans to target corrupt actors, it added.
The statement also recalled of the Republika Srpska National Assembly conclusions from December 10 aimed at withdrawing competencies from state-level institutions, adding that this threatens to “undo the last 26 years of peace and stability in the region” and adding that all BiH leaders have the responsibility to de-escalate tensions and to engage in dialogue through BiH institutions.
“The United States will not hesitate to hold actors in Bosnia and Herzegovina accountable for their destabilizing actions and perpetuation of corruption, regardless of political affiliation,” said Acting Assistant Secretary Ahern. “Treasury can, and will, use all tools at its disposal to counter corrupt actors who jeopardize the future of Bosnia and Herzegovina and its citizens.”
“The US Department of Treasury looks forward to working with BiH authorities to address money laundering and terrorist financing issues, as solving these are key factors in combatting systemic corruption. Treasury will also continue to monitor the political situation, and will use its authorities to promote BiH’s stability,” the statement concluded.