Police arrest head of Kosovo Central Bank on suspicion of corruption, raid offices and home

By Nebi Qena, AP
Friday, July 23, 2010

Police arrest head of Kosovo Central Bank

PRISTINA, Kosovo — Police in Kosovo arrested the head of the country’s central bank and raided his home and office Friday, the latest in a series of investigations targeting alleged corruption in the Balkan nation.

Hashim Rexhepi was led out of his office in central Pristina in handcuffs and escorted by special police units armed with machine guns. He is to appear in front of a judge within 48 hours, said Karin Limdal, spokeswoman for the EU’s police mission in Kosovo.

She said police were looking for evidence of abuse of official position, accepting bribes, tax evasion, trading in influence and money laundering.

Police also searched the houses of three other suspects and one private company early Friday. The searches were done by Kosovo police accompanied by EU justice officials.

Kosovo’s law enforcement agency is in charge of policing the country, but the EU has a 2,000 strong police mission that oversees the local force and has taken a leading role in fighting organized crime and prosecuting war crimes.

Kosovo has often come under criticism for tolerating criminals and corrupt officials. The raids are the latest in a series of searches that have targeted the Kosovo Post and Telecom and the Ministry of Transport.

The transport and telecommunications minister, Fatmir Limaj, is under investigation for alleged embezzlement of public funds.

Kosovo declared independence from Serbia in 2008, with backing from the United States and is now recognized by 69 countries. Serbia, however, rejects Kosovo’s independence. On Thursday, the International Court of Justice ruled that Kosovo’s declaration of independence did not violate international law.

will not be displayed