Stepping up an anti-corruption drive, Serbian police have arrested 80 people, including a former minister.
The ex head of the anti-corruption agency, executives of state-owned companies and several mayors are also among those held.
Alleged embezzlement totals more than 60 million euros.
The arrests come just days after Serbia launched talks to join the European Union.
“Criminal charges have been brought against the detained because there is reasonable doubt that from 2004 until today, they have committed several crimes such as money laundering, embezzlement, the forging of documents,” said Nebojsa Stefanovic, Serbian Interior Minister.
“Also, issuing the certification for false documents, abuse of office, bribery and misuse of public procurement.”
The former minister detained is Slobodan Milosavljevic from the opposition Democratic Party, who previously held the agriculture portfolio.
He is charged with abuse of office during his term and also while he served as Chamber of Commerce head.
Democratic Party leader Bojan Pajtic claims the arrests are politically motivated.
Many of those held are from his party, although some are members of the governing Socialist Party.
With EU talks underway, Serbia will feel pressure to demonstrate progress in clearing up a legacy of corruption and organised crime.
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