July 31, 2019 / 3:55 PM / 20 days ago

Financial, tax police to probe Bosnia Aluminij's operation-govt

SARAJEVO, July 31 (Reuters) - Bosnian authorities on Wednesday ordered the financial and tax police to probe operations at the country’s sole aluminium smelter before it was shut earlier this month over a huge debt it incurred due to high electricity and alumina prices.

The temporary closure of Aluminij Mostar, one of Bosnia’s biggest exporters, has put the jobs of about 900 workers at the plant, based in the southern town of Mostar, at risk.

The government of Bosnia’s autonomous Bosniak-Croat Federation, where the smelter is based and which is Aluminij’s biggest single shareholder with a 44% stake, had first said the company would file for bankruptcy, but it later gave management until December of this year to come up with a restructuring plan.

Small shareholders hold another 44% stake in the firm and the Croatian government the rest.

After having got an insight into the company’s operations earlier this year, when it got into the difficulties, the government said it had ordered the financial police to investigate all money transactions made ahead of its closure.

The same order has been given to the tax administration, the government said in a statement.

Taking care of workers would be a priority, it added.

The government also said it would continue to seek strategic investors for Aluminij despite failed attempts so far to find a partner for it. The company has total debts of nearly 380 million Bosnian marka ($216.7 million). (1$ = 1.753 Bosnian marka) (Reporting by Daria Sito-Sucic; Editing by Alexandra Hudson)

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