A court in Bosnia and Herzegovina ruled on Monday that the bank branch of the autonomous Republika Srpska acted illegally by withholding the files of a failed local bank from the anti-corruption group Transparency International (TI), the organization said.
Banja Luka City District Court found that the Republika Srpska Banking Agency, which oversees financial institutions in the country’s Serbian sub-state, wrongly refused to comply with a request from TI regarding the reports. external auditors on Banka Srpske, which saw its license revoked by the agency at the end of 2015.
The agency had previously denied TI’s request on the grounds that the information was a “trade secret,” TI said.
The bank, in liquidation since May, has long suffered heavy losses. The bank was established in 2013 on the remnants of the failed Balkan investment bank. State prosecutors are investigating allegations that the Balkan Investment Bank was used to launder 1.7 billion Bosnian marks ($ 960 million), according to Radio Free Europe.
This is not the first time that a court has ruled in favor of TI over the failure to submit data relating to banks plagued by the Republika Srpska scandal. In April, TI announced that the Banja Luka court ruled that the agency had illegally withheld a report on Bobar Bank, which has been in liquidation since 2014.
In that decision, the court also found that the agency improperly relied on trade secrets as a ground for withholding information.
Bobar Bank is currently at the center of a full-scale investigation into what Bosnian prosecutors say involved up to 280 million Bosnian marks (US $ 158 million) in losses, caused by fraudulent loans.
The investigation resulted in 11 arrests, the most recent of which occurred last week.
Irregularities in the banking sector in Republika Srpska have been a key target of opposition in the region, which accuses the government of regional president Milorad Dodik of turning a blind eye to the abuses.
Federal prosecutors are also investigating Pavlovic Bank, from which Dodik took out a controversial loan in 2008.