Sarajevo, February 11, 2016/Independent Balkan News Agency
By Mladen Dragojlovic
Since journalists in BiH discovered the phrase “controversial businessman”, every man who has the smallest enterprise and, at some point, was under police investigation for any reason, was called with this name. But in the case of the arrest of Slobodan Pavlovic, owner of the “Pavlovic Bank International”, this phrase is absolutely correct.
Early on Thursday morning, the State investigation and protection agency BiH (SIPA) arrested the former manager of this bank, Petar Lazic (54), as well as the woman responsible for credit approval, Ljiljana Garic (52). The official explanation for the arrests was that they are suspected for financial crimes. Their boss, Slobodan Pavlovic, was not in his apartment in the city of Bijeljina. SIPA found him in southern part of BiH, near the city of Mostar. Allegedly, he was ready to cross the border, but officers acted fast and managed to apprehend him. As the two previously arrested persons, he was transported in Sarajevo on police interrogation. After him, one more person, Blago Blagojevic (66), was arrested for the same crime.
There was no official announcement about the case which brought these persons behind bars. Media speculate that it is because of the credit of large amount of money to RS president, Milorad Dodik. Controversy is in the fact that this Bank paid the villa in Belgrade for Dodik, but he didn’t have an account opened in this bank. A year after the transaction, according to media reports, Dodik received credit from Pavlovic Bank maching the said amount. Investigation should answer who in fact gave the money for the villa and what was the financial arrangement between Dodik and Slobodan Pavlovic. Some expect, and some wish, that Dodik will be called from SIPA to give a statement about this case.
So why is Slobodan Pavlovic controversial? He was born in the small village near Bijeljina, Popovi, but as a young man emigrated in USA. There he discovered the business of real estate in such manner, which was not introduced in Chicago. In fact, he borrowed money to buy the building, reconstructed it and sold it to himself. His new enterprise “Hillcrest Real Estate” was very important in this practice. The final price was USD 130,000 and Pavlovic had the basis for new, this time bigger, loan to buy another house and to pay the debts. His small business became big and he came under the investigation of the FBI. When agents discovered his business at the edge of the law, he had to serve several months in prison. As a free man, just before the war, Slobodan Pavlovic with his wife Miroslava, came back to Bijeljina with the big plan to build the entire university city. First however, he had to fulfill his dream to build the bridge over the River Drina and between BiH and Serbia, near his planned city of Slobomir (combination of SLOBOdan and MIRoslava).
And he did it, in fact, but partially. The city has buildings enterprises and a University. In order to finance all this projects, Pavlovic bought three banks in RS and established the Pavlovic Bank International. He also had support from his friends from the USA. There was no doubt that Pavlovic Bank will be a successful project since Slobodan became friends with Milorad Dodik, at that time PM and later president of RS.
A few months ago, the new BiH Minister of security, Dragan Mektic, said that “some of the big fish will be arrested very soon”. Media speculated that he meant Dodik, especially when the manipulation with Dodik villa in Belgrade was discovered. Paovic stated that he gave his statement in the BiH Prosecutor’s Office, but he was not arrested. Media also speculate about other hidden jobs between Pavlovic and Dodik. Interrogation will reveal many secrets and the public in BiH is ready to listen.