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 dksk_logo 13.09.2013  INTERVIEW: GJORGJI SLAMKOV, PRESIDENT OF THE STATE ANTI-CORRUPTION COMMISSION: 160 public officials with conflicts of interest

 Skopje - Eighteen judges have not submitted a declaration of interests to SCPC (State Commission for Prevention of Corruption) and now they are facing charges. It is about nine judges in the Court of Appeal Skopje, three judges in the Court of Appeal Gostivar, three judges in the Court of Appeal Bitola and three judges in the Court of Appeal Stip

 

                   

What has been in your focus for the past few months, since you became president of the Anti-Corruption Commission?

For me the membership and currently the position of a president are a big challenge starting from the fact that as a professor of criminal law on several occasions I have worked on issues of corruption as an expert in drafting legal analyses to prevent corruption or through papers or lectures where with the students we generally discussed corruption, our opportunities and of course the role of the State Commission for Prevention of Corruption (SCPC) in the whole process. In this period, starting from the fact that it is a post-election period (local elections in 2013), SCPC had increased workload related to declarations of interests, and also a lot of corruption cases were opened, initiated by SCPC, we worked on financial statements of the election campaign’s organizers, in accordance with the competencies set out in the Electoral Code.

Which sector in Macedonia is the most corrupt?

This is a global problem with terrible consequences, so the fact that in the EU since 2013 preparation and publication of the EU Anti-Corruption Report has been introduced, which will assess the effectiveness in dealing with corruption in each member country, is a kind of recognition of EU institutions that in the member countries the problem of corruption is very sensitive, of course in all countries it is not present in the same proportions. Speaking of Macedonia and in which fields/professions there is most corruption, I would answer that there is not a field/profession that would not be a subject to corruption. It depends on the mindset of the individual from his/her world view, namely, the professions in our country are also present in Norway, Denmark, Sweden. So the problem is not in the professions, but in our approach to them, therefore I think we need a broader social action of preventive and repressive elements. Through prevention, since the early age, we will need to implement the far-reaching consequences of corruption into people's consciousness. I would mention that currently we are finishing a project on anti-corruption education of primary school students in collaboration with the Ministry of Education and Science, the NGO Center for Civil Communications, the Norwegian Embassy. We have implemented it as a pilot project in four schools but in future we hope to cover all primary schools and then high schools, with incorporation of anti-corruption in an appropriate school subject in regular classes. All our preventive activities will fall into the water if we do not have a fair sentencing policy. Namely, in the corruption acts the goal is not to put the criminal in prison but confiscation - above all extended confiscation, therefore once again I appeal to the courts this institute to have more frequent application in our jurisprudence, as nothing can lead to general-specially-preventive moment as confiscation can. For corruption crimes, and in our CC there are about 30, there is neither place for probation, nor for court reprimand, should the lowest limit for them be the special legal minimum.

Those persons who perform public functions in the executive, judicial and legislative power have a legal obligation to declare their assets to SCPC. Has it been found that someone has not declared their assets or declared false data about assets since you became president?

According to the Law on Prevention of Corruption SCPC records and monitors assets and changes in assets of elected and appointed officials and people in charge in public companies and other entities managing state capital. This means that every elected or appointed official, a responsible person in a public enterprise, public institution or other entity that has state capital, when elected or appointed, not later than 30 days from the day of election or appointment, fills out a declaration with a detailed list of real estate, movable property of greater value, securities and receivables and debts, and other assets in his/her possession, or possession of his/her family members, stating the grounds for acquisition of assets declared and deposits a certified notary statement to cancel protection of banking secrecy in respect of all accounts in domestic and foreign banks. In the period after the local elections there was an increased workload in terms of declarations, so by the month of July 2013 a total of 1,707 declarations were submitted to SCPC by elected and appointed officials, mainly resulting from the local elections. In the public there were remarks on the issue of declarations - that the State Commission was passive and did not publish them timely. I can say that SCPC with maximum use of its modest resources has timely fulfilled its legal obligation, i.e., input data in database and their publishing on the web site. SCPC has already started systematic review of data from the submitted declarations with data from the competent institutions, for the persons who had an obligation to do so within the specified period (both from the local government, and the legislative, judicial and executive power), then if there is violation of law, charges will be pressed to the competent court, as well as an application to PRO to investigate the assets. For those who perform functions and have not submitted a declaration or performed a function and in the given deadline after the termination of their function did not submit a declaration, there is nothing to comment on as legal norms will automatically be applied on them, i.e., charges to the competent court and a request to PRO for examination of property. I would add that after the local elections a total of 80 mayors submitted a declaration, i.e., only one mayor did not submit it (the mayor of Shuto Orizari), and legal actions have already been taken against him.

Once you found that 26 public officials in the judiciary have given incomplete data in the declarations and have not reported changes in assets, what's next? How is it going with this case?

According to the European Commission Report on Macedonia's progress in 2010 and the Criteria for the manner of determining asset declarations that will be subject to review, in 2011 subject of systematic reviews were declarations of public officials from the legislative, executive and judiciary power according to ID numbers from the database. After comparing data from declarations of assets with data obtained from the competent authorities, SCPC found that 26 public office holders from judicial power had given incomplete information in the questionnaire and had not reported changes in assets, so in accordance with LPC charges have been brought against them as well as application to PRO for investigation of their assets. According to the latest information, the procedure for most cases in PRO is still in progress, for those where it was found that the change of property is with legal means the procedure is stopped, while for those who fail to prove the origin of property, taxation is made at the rate of 70%, or it is about application of provisions of tax procedure.

How many cases of conflict of interests has SCPC discovered at persons performing several public functions and could you tell us who the people are?

In the past four months a total of 994 statements of interests were submitted to SCPC by officials who submit declarations of interest to the State Commission, most of them by local government officials. Although the number is relatively large, I think that a certain percentage of newly elected councilors have not fulfilled the legal obligation and for them there will be a request for initiation of criminal proceedings. Non-submission of a declaration of interests results in application for initiation of criminal proceedings with a fine - up to 3,000 Euros. Of those who have submitted a declaration of interests, at 160 public officials it has been found to be in a situation of conflict of interests (accumulation of functions or violation of Articles 9 and 20 of the Law on Prevention of Conflict of Interests), cases have been initiated against them, they have been given a deadline to be out of the conflict and in 55 cases the conflict has been solved, in the others the procedure is underway. At the same time a total of 9 public warnings have been issued to officials for non-acting upon SCPC suggestions, mainly counselors of municipalities and a Member of the Parliament of the Republic of Macedonia. SCPC is conducting a systematic review of declarations of interests, so as a result of the defined plan and dynamics for checking the contents of the declarations of interests relating to 2013, in the second quarter of the year (period April-June 2013) a review was conducted of the content of the declarations of interests of officials - judges of the appellate court areas in the Republic of Macedonia. From the inspection SCPC stated that a total of 18 officials - judges, subject to review, have failed to fulfill their obligation and have not submitted declarations of interests to SCPC, so the procedure for filing requests for initiation of offense proceedings against them to a competent court is in process. It is about 9 judges in the Court of Appeal Skopje, three judges in the Court of Appeal Gostivar, 3 judges in the Court of Appeal Bitola and three judges in the Court of Appeal Stip. As far as the system review on the declarations of interests is concerned, implemented during 2013, in the second quarter of 2013 a total of 11 charges were brought against officials whose declarations of interests were subject to review in the first quarter of the year. The charges were brought in accordance with Article 31-a paragraph 3 of the Law on Prevention of Conflict of Interests for failure to comply with the obligation to submit declarations of interests to SCPC and they refer to one judge of the Supreme Court, 8 judges of the Administrative Court and two judges of Higher Administrative Court. I cannot reveal the identity of the officials - judges because it will represent violation of the presumption of guiltlessness that protects the citizen to the court decision.

 by
Antonija Popovska-Hristov

www.scoop.mk

 
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