THE LAW IS NOT THE SAME FOR EVERYONE
Politicians in BiH skillfully hide property and conflicts of interest: Here is who does not submit reports
As many as 14 officials did not submit reports for 2020 and hence violated the law. What do Dodik, Tegeltija and Košarac have, who have never submitted regular reports?
According to the information of the portal Fokus.ba, a number of officials at the state level do not submit their property cards, ie regular annual financial reports, although they are obliged to do so by law. Thus, they are violating even the existing Law on Conflict of Interest of BiH, which is quite deficient, but which somewhat defines this duty of elected officials.
WRITTEN BY: A. DUČIĆ
Our portal received information from the Office of the Commission for Deciding Conflict of Interest that asset cards or financial reports for 2020, and the deadline for their submission was March 31 last year, to date have not submitted as many as 14 officials in state power!
As confirmed to Focus, these are members of the Presidency of BiH Milorad Dodik (SNSD) and Šefik Džaferović (SDA), then seven members of the Council of Ministers of BiH, chairman, ministers and deputy ministers, Zoran Tegeltija (SNSD), Staša Košarac (SNSD), Vojin Mitrović (SNSD), Sifet Podžić (DF), Nedžad Branković (SDA), Mijo Krešić (HDZBiH) and Mirko Okolić (SDS).
Also, four deputies in the House of Representatives of the BiH Parliamentary Assembly did not submit their financial reports: Nenad Nešić (DNS), Predrag Kojović (Naša stranka / Our Party), Jakov Galić (SP) and Jasmin Emrić (NES), as well as no delegate in the House of Peoples of PSBiH Lidija Bradara (HDZBiH).
To make the climax even bigger, Dodik, then Tegeltija and Košarac, SNSD officials in the state government, as confirmed to us in the Office of the Commission for Deciding Conflict of Interest, have never submitted their regular annual property cards, as opposed to those who submitted them at the beginning of the term.
In addition, the information we received from the Commission Office shows that as many as 52 officials, members of the BiH Presidency, the Council of Ministers and the BiH Parliamentary Assembly, missed the deadline to submit their financial reports for 2021 by March 31 this year.
However, we will not mention their names for now, because, as we were told in the Commission, a certain flexibility is needed.
– Officials often forget and deliver immediately after the deadline or a little later, so we have to be flexible with this deadline, which has now expired on March 31 – said Mira Pekić (PDP), chairwoman of the Commission for Deciding Conflict of Interest.
However, she confirmed the information to us that the officials who were supposed to submit financial reports for 2020, by March 31, 2021, and which we have listed, have not done so to date.
Therefore, the legal obligation of all officials is to submit regular financial reports for the previous year to the Commission by March 31, otherwise, the Commission will initiate proceedings against those who did not submit a completed financial report for violating Article 9, paragraph (1), item f ) Of the Law on Conflict of Interest in BiH Government Institutions.It should be noted that, in accordance with Article 12 of the Law on Conflict of Interest and Articles 5 and 6 of the Rules of Procedure, all elected officials, executive officeholders and advisers are required to submit a financial report to the Commission within 30 days of taking over their duties, then regular annual reports until March 31 for the previous year and within 30 days after the expiration of six months after the termination of performing duties.
When asked whether those who did not submit financial reports for 2020 will be prosecuted for violating the law, Pekić told Fokus that if the Commission meets, it will initiate proceedings in accordance with the law.
– According to that procedure, they are again informed to submit financial reports, and then the procedure of determining the conflict of interest follows. However, it should be pointed out that it is still very difficult to determine because we do not have data, and we do everything by force of law – said Pekić.
The Executive Director of Transparency International BiH, Ivana Korajlić, told Fokus that when we talk about financial reports submitted under the Law on Conflict of Interest, which serve the purpose of identifying conflicts of interest, they are certainly not published.
– So, they are not available to the public, although it should be clear from them whether someone has interests in some legal entities that could bring that person into a situation of conflict of interest or information regarding their close relatives.
The fact that some officials do not submit financial reports is a direct consequence of the Commission's inaction, and on the other hand inadequate punitive measures. We asked for tougher sanctions in the new law for refusing to submit these reports and to make this information public, and to introduce control over their accuracy – Korajlić emphasized.
It should be noted that the BiH Election Law also obligates elected officials to submit property cards to the Central Election Commission within 30 days of the termination of their mandate, as well as within 30 days of the beginning of the new mandate. These are declarations of assets at the beginning and end of the term.
– But they are not checked either, they are just published. No one has a mandate to check their accuracy. All this should be defined by the improved Law on Conflict of Interest. But here we see that there are obstructions on the scene for the functioning of the commission itself, as well as a weak penal policy, even for a direct conflict of interest – Korajlić pointed out.
We will analyze those officials for whom the Commission has established that they never submit their regular annual financial reports, in order to see whether and to what extent their wealth has grown, ie their assets and income.
Milorad Dodik, leader of SNSD and current member of the Presidency of BiH, according to the latest available data from his property card, published in 2018 on the website of the Central Election Commission, for one year, ie from November 1, 2017 to November 1, 2018, had an income of 241,074 KM. Out of that, only 58,956 KM fell on the salary, while a large part, ie 181,702 KM, referred to the income from agriculture, and renting a house in Belgrade.
When it comes to property, according to Dodik's data in the said property card, it amounts to 2.1 million KM. From the property, Dodik mentioned a house in BiH worth 300,000 KM and a house in Serbia worth 1.7 million KM. A villa in Dedinje is in question, which is currently the subject of an investigation by the Prosecutor's Office of BiH against Dodik.
His car is worth 10,000 KM, and the shares in Banja Laktaša 505 KM. In addition, he stated that he had 52,538 KM in his account. His wife's property amounts to 229,505 KM.
Zoran Tegeltija, the current chairman of the BiH Council of Ministers, stated that he owns property worth 236,400 KM. This includes an apartment of 80 square meters worth 90,000 KM, an Audi A6 of 25,000 KM, and savings in the amount of 121,400 KM.
Staša Košarac, the current Minister of Foreign Trade and Economic Relations of BiH, stated that he owns property worth 226,000 KM, which includes: an apartment worth 75,000 KM, an apartment worth 80,000 KM, and a VW Tiguan vehicle worth 71,000 KM.