US Treasury sanctions Serbia's intelligence agency chief for alleged corruption

US Treasury sanctions Serbia's intelligence agency chief for alleged corruption
Aleksandar Vulin, head of Serbia's Security Intelligence Agency (BIA). / bne IntelliNews
By bne IntelIiNews July 13, 2023

The US Department of the Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) announced on July 11 that it has imposed sanctions on the chief of Serbia's Security Intelligence Agency (BIA), Aleksandar Vulin.

The sanctions were issued due to Vulin's alleged involvement in corrupt activities that have not only advanced corruption within Serbia's governing institutions but also facilitated Russia's malign activities in the region.

Vulin previously served as minister of defence and minister of the interior in Serbia.

"The designation of Aleksandar Vulin underscores the US' commitment to holding accountable individuals engaged in corrupt dealings that prioritise personal interests and political agendas over peace and stability in the Western Balkans," the OFAC said.

These corrupt actions have also created an enabling environment for Russia's negative influence in Serbia and the wider region, it added. "Treasury will not hesitate to target actors that abuse their positions for personal gain while undermining effective and democratic governance in the Western Balkans," Under Secretary of the Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence, Brian E. Nelson, stated.

According to the OFAC, Vulin has been implicated in various illegal activities, including transnational organised crime, narcotics operations, and the misuse of public office. Of note is his close relationship with Slobodan Tesic, a Serbian arms dealer. Vulin has allegedly assisted Tesic in facilitating the illicit transportation of weapons across Serbia's borders, benefiting both individuals.

Furthermore, it was stated that Vulin has actively supported Russia, providing a platform for their malign activities that undermine security and stability in the Western Balkans, while furthering Russian influence in the region.

It is important to note that the institutions themselves are not the targets of these sanctions.

As a result of these sanctions, all of Vulin's property and interests within the US or under the control of US persons are blocked and must be reported to OFAC. Entities that are owned, directly or indirectly, 50% or more by Vulin are also subject to the same restrictions.

US persons are prohibited from engaging in transactions involving Vulin's property or interests without specific authorisation from OFAC.

Financial institutions and other individuals or entities involved in certain transactions or activities with Vulin may also face sanctions or enforcement actions.

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic has commented on the US sanctions imposed on BIA's head Vulin, stating that they were not a result of any criminal or corrupt activities. Instead, Vucic asserts that the sanctions were imposed due to Vulin's stance on matters concerning the Russian Federation.