Bosnian Corruption Cleanup Urged
WASHINGTON (AP) _ An international team of special investigators and judges should be sent to clean up corruption in Bosnia, the House’s leading Republican foreign policy member said Wednesday.
House International Relations Committee Chairman Benjamin Gilman said congressional staff investigators he sent to the country found evidence that hundreds of millions of dollars had been stolen through ``various scams″ that may have involved diversion of international aid money.
``International officials who spoke to our staff were united in the view that Bosnia’s current police and courts could not clean up this mess,″ Gilman said, suggesting the creation of a unit like the so-called ‘untouchables’ that federal agents operated to fight bootlegging during America’s Prohibition period.
``I believe that we should establish an Elliot Ness style team of ‘untouchable’ investigators and judges to clean up Bosnia,″ Gilman said.
Ambassador Larry C. Napper, the State Department’s coordinator on assistance in Eastern Europe, said the administration already was planning to intensify its 2-year-old fight against Bosnian crime and corruption, a move that follows other recent reports of possible aid diversions.
The United States and other donor nations have poured about $5.1 billion into Bosnia since the war ended in 1995 to reconstruct infrastructure and try to stitch together a viable government.
``I want to assure you that the U.S. government is fully committed to the integrity of all U.S. assistance programs in Central and Eastern Europe,″ Napper said. ``We use strict controls ... and investigate allegations of loss or misuse.″
Gilman said congressional staff found evidence of officials purchasing cars at twice the retail price, lending money to their political friends and so on.
``In the most shocking revelation, we found that funds to provide gravestones for victims of the Srebrenica massacre were stolen″ by the top official in one district, Gilman said.
``Clearly, the Clinton administration should tighten up its accountability of our foreign assistance programs,″ Gilman said.