How companies connected to Voloder benefited from tenders of the FBiH Highways
The connection between Divel, Trasa, and DTQ is evident in court records, and they have provided their statements to Fokus, along with Elmedin Voloder
Since May 26th of this year, when the Supervisory Board of the FBiH Highways, acting on the previous decision of the FBiH Government, appointed new management with Denis Lasić as the head, Elmedin Voloder is no longer the de facto director of this public company.
He served as the head of the FBiH Highways for nearly two years, long enough to be involved in a series of scandals, as reported by media investigations. During his tenure, the European Anti-Fraud Office initiated and later concluded an investigation against him, as reported by Fokus.
Furthermore, during his time in office, the company he founded, as well as those connected to him, continued to receive contracts from the FBiH Highways, making enormous profits.
Network of Companies
Fokus.ba investigated how companies connected to Voloder, to say the least, profited from tenders of the FBiH Highways, especially during his tenure as the head of this public company.
Moreover, according to a wealth of information obtained from multiple sources, there is a sort of network of both design and supervision companies that have been “predestined” for certain highway sections in recent years. Let's proceed in order.
The companies that were the focus of the investigation are Divel d.o.o, followed by Trasa d.o.o, and DTQ d.o.o. Sarajevo. Divel was founded by Elmedin Voloder himself, and he managed the company as its director for several years. In the previous government, on June 10, 2021, the FBiH Government made a decision to appoint Voloder as the acting director of the FBiH Highways. On that day, Elmedin Voloder was both the founder and director of Divel, which had already secured multi-million contracts with FBiH Highways, mostly for supervision tasks, and he was also a member of the federal parliament.
A few days later, Transparency International BiH released information stating that the company Divel received a total of 68 contracts from public companies in BiH until 2015, with a total value of 13.8 million KM, all related to services for traffic projects development, supervision of construction works, and project documentation review.
From the FBiH Highways alone, Divel obtained contracts worth over 8.8 million KM. Among them, three contracts worth 7.1 million KM were signed in 2019, during Elmedin Voloder's tenure as a member of the House of Representatives of the FBiH Parliament.
Voloder, at least on paper, was the director and owner of Divel, while simultaneously serving as the top executive of the FBiH Highways, but his dual roles lasted for only one day. He was a federal parliamentarian and acting director of the FBiH Highways for 14 days in June 2021, as the Central Election Commission of BiH officially terminated his mandate in the FBiH Parliament on June 24th.
According to Fokus’ findings, in the notarized agreement on the transfer of ownership shares in Divel, drafted on June 11, 2021, one day after being appointed to the helm of FBiH Highways, Voloder transferred his shares, valued at 66.67 or 340,017 KM, to Namik Kamenica. Kamenica was given 30 days to pay the purchase price to Voloder as per this agreement.
According to registry court data, Kamenica is still listed as the founder of Divel. Additionally, Kamenica is the proxy of the company DTQ d.o.o. Sarajevo, which, according to the same court records, was founded by the company Trasa d.o.o. Thus, the connection between Divel, Trasa, and DTQ is more than apparent based on this information.
Voloder transferred his ownership share in the company Divel d.o.o. to Kamenica, the proxy of the company DTQ d.o.o., which was founded by Trasa d.o.o.
In addition to the connections established through court records, we have received a series of on-site information. Multiple sources involved in financing, designing, and constructing sections of the highway, as well as overseeing the construction, have confirmed to Fokus the direct link between these three entities and Voloder when it comes to obtaining contracts for specific sections of the highway.
Working for Each Other
Furthermore, multiple sources have confirmed to us that individuals who were or are still employed in Divel d.o.o. also work for Trasa d.o.o., and that certain sections of the highway use existing projects, while on some sections, so-called “fabricated designing” has been established, all to include specific companies in the projects, as projects for those sections already existed.
According to official data, during Voloder's tenure as the director of Autocesta, Divel d.o.o. obtained contracts from this public company in four tenders, with a total value of 14.7 million KM (14,749,094 KM) without including VAT.
The latest contract, worth 5,255,408 KM (excluding VAT), was signed on September 26, 2022, for the development of the Main project “Lašva – Travnik – Jajce Expressway on the Nević-Polje – Turbe route.” Divel was part of the consortium for this project along with IPSA Institute, INK Constructor Banja Luka, Design & QC d.o.o, and PPG d.o.o.
According to the documentation we obtained, the bid from Divel's consortium was 255,408 KM higher than the estimated procurement value. However, the commission decided to allocate additional funds from Autocesta's budget and accept this offer.
Before that, on June 16, 2022, Autocesta FBiH, with Voloder at the helm, signed a contract worth 1,984,345 KM (without VAT), which amounts to 2,321,683 KM with VAT, with the consortium Divel – Institut za građevinarstvo IG d.o.o. Banja Luka – Zagrebinspekt Mostar.
This contract pertains to the supervision of construction works on the part of the “fast road Lašva – Nević-Polje LOT 5: Vitez junction (exit from the business zone) – Nević-Polje junction”.
On May 20 of the previous year, Elmedin Voloder, as the director of Autocesta FBiH, signed the contract of the highest value for the project in which Divel was again the selected bidder. The contract is for the preparation (supplement) of the Preliminary and Main design of the motorway Orašje – Tuzla, section Tuzla – Maoča.
The contract is worth 7,499,791 KM (without VAT), and with VAT, it amounts to 8,774,756 KM. In this consortium with Divel, there are also IPSA institut, Design & QC Sarajevo, PPG Sarajevo, and INK Constructor Banja Luka.
Interestingly, it is worth noting that the consortium that won the contract for the preparation of the Main design of the “fast road Lašva – Travnik – Jajce, section Nević-Polje – Turbe” is identical to the one mentioned earlier.
The fourth tender that Divel won from Autocesta during Voloder's tenure was significantly smaller in scale. It involved the preparation of temporary traffic signalization projects for traffic flow regulation at the front toll plazas of Sarajevo North, Sarajevo West, and Ljubuški, as well as the side toll plazas on the A1 motorway in the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
The total contract value without VAT amounted to 9,550 KM, and with VAT, it reached 11,173 KM. The contract was signed on May 6, and Divel was the sole participant in this project, without other firms in the consortium.
“Vranduk – Ponirak” Case
As a reminder, Divel was responsible for overseeing the construction works on the Vranduk – Ponirak section, where, as reported, cost overruns occurred due to inflated prices. This section, which was initially supposed to be completed two years ago, is still under construction.
After Fokus.ba's reporting, the Prosecutor's Office of the Herzegovina-Neretva Canton initiated an investigation into possible malpractices related to this section. At that time, Voloder was leading Divel, while Adnan Terzić was the head of Autocesta FBiH. The contract awarded to the consortium of Divel and Dri Ljubljana amounted to 4.06 million KM (excluding VAT).
During Voloder's tenure, Trasa d.o.o. signed three contracts with Autocesta FBiH, with a total value of 7,976,598 KM (excluding VAT). According to data from the Public Procurement Portal, the latest contract for “additional geotechnical services for the Ozimica – Poprikuše section” was concluded on September 7, 2022, with a value of 129,639 KM (excluding VAT). Besides Trasa, the consortium included IG Banja Luka, Routing d.o.o. Banja Luka, and Saraj inženjering.
On June 2, 2022, Trasa, in consortium with IG Banja Luka, was awarded a contract for the development of the Preliminary Design for the fast road Bihać – Cazin – Velika Kladuša – Croatia, valued at 3,758,782 KM (excluding VAT), with a total amount of 4,397,775 KM including VAT.
Trasa was also part of the consortium that developed the Main Project for the highway section Ozimica – Poprikuše (Žepče south). The contract, valued at 4,088,177 KM, was signed on October 5, 2021. It is worth noting that this consortium was the same as the one involved in the additional geotechnical services contract for the same section, signed on September 7, 2022.
DTQ company proudly highlighted its collaboration with Divel and Autocesta FBiH on its website. While Elmedin Voloder was leading Divel, DTQ received contracts for projects such as Tunnel “1. mart”, Sarajevo Bypass, and others.
Interestingly, on an excerpt from DTQ's reference list, we found information indicating that they provided external control services during the time when Voloder was the director of Autocesta FBiH. These services were provided for the Vranduk – Ponirak section, where Divel was overseeing the construction works, as well as for the construction of the Sarajevo Bypass LOT 3B, where Divel was also involved, and the section Počitelj – Zvirovići, including the Počitelj interchange and the Počitelj – Zvirovići bridge.
Leap in Revenues
Among the three mentioned companies, Trasa d.o.o. experienced the most significant leap in revenues during the period when Voloder was leading Autocesta FBiH.
According to official financial reports, Trasa's total revenues surged from 909,329 KM in 2020 to 5,464,722 KM in 2022!
During Voloder's tenure at the helm of the company, Divel's revenues experienced substantial growth. While in 2019, the company had revenues of 3,367,743 KM, by 2020, it skyrocketed to 8,262,593 KM. In 2021, when Voloder was appointed as the director of Autocesta FBiH, the revenues amounted to 5,740,834 KM, and in 2022, they further increased to 6,066,804 KM.
During Voloder's tenure at Autocesta FBiH, DTQ's revenues also experienced growth, increasing from 967,575 KM in 2021 to 1,200,260 KM in 2022.
In response to Fokus's inquiry, Divel stated that they won each contract for works and services through a tender process based on fulfilling all conditions prescribed by law, strictly adhering to the legal provisions of public procurement, and meeting the necessary qualifications. They emphasized that tying their company's projects solely to Voloder's mandate as the director of Autocesta FBiH, especially since he sold his ownership stake before taking on that position, is unfair and even malicious.
Divel provided certain information regarding DTQ's business dealings with Autocesta FBiH as well.
Trasa also responded to the inquiry, emphasizing that their business “never depended on any individual, including Mr Voloder, in any context.” They stated that all the contracts mentioned underwent the prescribed tendering procedure and were executed or are being executed in accordance with professional standards.
Elmedin Voloder, responding to Fokus's questions, stated that he had no intention of involving himself in any foolish activities as the director of Autocesta FBiH. He clarified that before assuming the position at Autocesta FBiH, he sold a portion of his company.
Regarding the ongoing activities and projects, Voloder asserted that he has no interest or contact with those individuals. He mentioned that if he happens to meet them on the street, they do not discuss business matters at all.
Pressures on Committees
When questioned about whether he exerted influence on committees regarding several sections, one of which was noted in an OLAF report, Elmedin Voloder responded firmly.
He stated that the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) and the European Investment Bank (EIB) constantly monitor the activities of Autocesta FBiH. Every move and every step of the committees is approved or rejected by these banks. While acknowledging the responsibility of Autocesta FBiH and its director, Voloder emphasized that both banks participate in decision-making and stand behind it. He categorically denied any allegations of manipulation.
Voloder pointed out that journalists receive both accurate and inaccurate information, and often the truth becomes apparent only after hearing the other side of the story.
He expressed confidence in his actions, stating that he operated within the framework of the law as interpreted by his team of lawyers. He remained unapologetic, asserting that he had achieved significant progress and contributed positively to society. Voloder concluded by defending his track record and questioned why he should be held responsible for doing his job well.