80 Serbian officials & businessmen arrested on corruption charges

A general view of Serbian capital Belgrade © Marko Djurica
A massive wave of arrests took place in Serbia, as 80 people, including government officials, have been taken into custody on charges of money laundering, forgery and bribery.

The damage caused to Serbia by this activity extends to $110 million since 2004, according to Serbia’s Telegraf news, citing Serbia’s Interior Minister Nebojsa Stefanovic. Among the arrested are politicians, former ministers and businessmen who have had dealings with them.

"The operation was undertaken in order to counter financial crime and corruption, particularly related to the state bodies," Stefanovic told reporters on Sunday.

 Serbian Interior Minister Nebojsa Stefanovic. © Marco Djokovic

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The arrests targeted former Minister for Trade Slobodan Milosavljevic, as well as the former director of the agency tasked with fighting corruption, Zorana Markovic and prominent businessman and owner of the company ‘Biohemije’ Zeljko Zunic.

Stefanovic confirmed that 20 cases of corruption have been opened in connection to the 80 arrests. All of the alleged crimes date back to 2004.

There is talk that the arrests were politically motivated. So thinks Democratic Party leader Bojan Pajtic, whose MPs make up the majority of the arrested - although a minority is from the governing Socialist Party.