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Bosnian court detains Indian businessman Pramod Mittal over suspected fraud

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SARAJEVO (Reuters) – A court in Bosnia on Thursday ordered a one-month detention for Indian businessman Pramod Mittal and two other officials who have been suspected of involvement with organised crime and abuse of office at a Bosnian coke plant, regional television reported.

Mittal, younger brother of steel magnate Lakshmi Mittal, heads the supervisory board and co-owns metallurgical coke producer Global Ispat Koksna Industrija Lukavac (GIKIL) in northern Bosnia, one of the country’s biggest exporters.

Mittal has been held in police custody since Tuesday, along with GIKIL’s general manager, Paramesh Bhattacharyya, and supervisory board member Razib Dash.

Prosecutor Camil Serhatlic told Reuters that Mittal and the other two executives invoked their right to remain silent during the questioning in the town of Tuzla, and that the prosecution asked the Tuzla cantonal court for their detention.

Regional television in Bosnia’s Bosniak-Croat Federation reported that the court then ordered a one-month detention for the trio.

Neither the men nor their lawyers were immediately reachable for comment.

A spokeswoman for GIKIL told Reuters she was not officially notified about the court’s order, which occurred during evening hours on Thursday.

Police said they seized documentation, computers and cell phones during a raid at GIKIL on Tuesday.

GIKIL union members said on Thursday the plant’s operation was not interrupted.

GIKIL, with around 1,000 employees in the town of Lukavac, is jointly run by Dubai-based Global Steel Holdings Ltd (GSH) and local government-owned KHK since 2003.

Last year, Bosnian police briefly detained GIKIL’s then-general manager over environmental negligence. He fled Bosnia just before the indictment against him was confirmed in early in 2019, the prosecutors said.

(Reporting by Daria Sito-Sucic in Sarajevo; Editing by Matthew Lewis)

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