Bosnia to expel hundreds of foreign property owners amid tax probe

SARAJEVO Dec 14 (Reuters) – Bosnia will expel more than 300
foreigners, most from the Gulf, as illegal residents after they
bought property for investment that they may have evaded taxes
on, the office for expatriate affairs said on Wednesday.

In recent years, Bosnia has seen an influx of Arab investors
who have built residential complexes and tourist resorts,
attracted by low prices and a favourable climate in a country
where half the population is Muslim.

Over the past three months officials inspected nearly 700
firms and 16 tourist resorts owned by citizens from the Gulf,
Libya, Russia and Ukraine.

About 500 of the firms, between them owning more than 600
residential and business premises, were found to be registered
at false addresses and had no staff, the office said.

Many of the property owners had registered the firms as real
estate companies for a 2,000 Bosnian mark ($1,000) fee in order
to buy or develop property worth hundreds of thousands of marka
to rent out to tourists, then not filing tax declarations.

Some of the owners were living illegally in the country,
some were not registered as having arrived in the country at
all, some had violated their visa requirements and others
misused their work permits, the office said.

Depending on the offence, more than 300 will be either asked
to leave the country voluntarily or be expelled and banned from
returning for between one and five years, a source at the office

Details of the violations will be passed on to tax
authorities and the police.

($1 = 1.84 Bosnian marka)

(Reporting by Daria Sito-Sucic; editing by John Stonestreet)

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