The elections for Belgrade City Assembly were announced in mid-January 2018; however, the campaigning of political parties started much earlier, with fight against corruption given as an unavoidable topic.
The analysis of the Center for Investigative Journalism of Serbia (CINS) indicates that for the local elections parties and coalitions nominated individuals who had violated the Law on Anti-Corruption Agency. This relates both to political options constituting authorities in the city and those aspiring to take power over – read more about that here.
The electoral list of current Belgrade authorities includes as many as nine candidates – four of them from the list “ALEKSANDAR VUČIĆ – Zato što volimo Beograd” (ALEKSANDAR VUCIC – Because we love Belgrade) and five from the list “IVICA DAČIĆ – Socijalistička partija Srbije (SPS), DRAGAN MARKOVIĆ PALMA – Jedinstvena Srbija (JS)” (IVICA DACIC – Socialist Party of Serbia (SPS), DRAGAN MARKOVIĆ PALMA – United Serbia (JS)).
In the case of the current Mayor Siniša Mali, the Agency established that he had violated the Law as many as three times; in 2017, it also initiated extraordinary control of his property.
The mandate of Siniša Mali was marked by a range of scandals which is why his replacement was announced on several occasions. In December 2017, Aleksandar Vučić, President of Serbia and the first man of Serbian Progressive Party (SNS), repeated that Mali would soon cease being mayor but his name was later placed as the third on the SNS electoral list.
In August 2013, the Agency pronounced the measure of reprimand against Ljubiša Đurović, SPS candidate and father-in-law of Branko Ružić, Minister of local self-government, while he had been performing the function of Deputy Mayor of City municipality of Palilula, as he had not transferred his managerial rights in his company Paling for more than a year.
SNS and SPS declined to reply questions asked by CINS.
In the text below, read about the other candidates from these two electoral lists who failed to meet their obligations towards the Agency.
Preventive measures for long-year SNS officials
Besides the well-known faces from the current set of city authorities, the SNS list for the forthcoming elections also includes names of numerous non-partisan persons from various areas – culture, sports, and non-governmental organizations. The party has not yet announced their candidate for the Mayor, while the current Mayor, Siniša Mali, actively participates in the campaign presenting his results, urging citizens to give him credit again.
An earlier CINS investigation indicated that Mali had made a range of omissions in the course of reporting his property, but also that he was pronounced the most lenient measure – the measure of warning, i.e. written reprimand – as many as three times by the Agency.
According to Agency data, Mali did not transfer his managerial rights in the company he had owned; his submission of the report on property and income upon his appointment as member of the Managing Board of the Clinical Centre of Serbia was delayed; and he also filed incorrect and incomplete data on his property.
When pronouncing the measure of reprimand, the Agency concluded in all three cases that Mali had not had the intention to conceal his assets.
In the course of 2015, the Agency filed a report to the Tax administration against him. The Agency does this every time it suspects law violation which surpasses its competences.
In 2016, the Agency also submitted a report to the Higher Public prosecutor’s office in Belgrade for suspected money laundering. The Prosecutor’s office concluded that there were no elements of criminal offence from their competence, but that there were elements of the criminal offence of failure to report property and income according to the Law on the Agency. This is why the case was filed to the First basic public prosecutor’s office.
Read more about cases against Mali in a separate story.
The list of the coalition around SNS includes the names of Svetislav Goncić, actor, and Ivan Tasovac, manager of Belgrade Philharmonic orchestra and former Minister of culture and information.
In October 2014, Tasovac was pronounced a measure of reprimand as he had failed to state in his report on property accurate and complete data on property of his wife Mirjana Mitrović, as well as the fact that he was the sole owner of company Zajkon Print and that he had accounts opened with different banks.
In his reply for the Agency, Tasovac stated that the property of his then wife was a part of family inheritance, that the litigation was underway, and that the company Zajkon Print was in the process of liquidation, its accounts inactive for years.
The Agency established that the process of liquidation of this company was initiated in April 2013, more than two years as of the time when Tasovac filed the report. Company Zajkon Print is still active, with Mirjana Mitrović as the manager with 50% ownership.
The Agency pronounced Tasovac a measure of reprimand, stating that it may act as a “preventive measure against the official so that in future he abides by provisions which regulate his obligations”.
In November 2016, the Agency issued a reprimand to Svetislav Goncić, actor who has been the director of Cultural Institution Vuk Stefanović Karadžić since 2015, as he had filed his report on property with a delay of 526 days.
Goncić justified his actions to the Agency saying that working conditions in the Institution were not in place, that electric power, the internet, and phone were disconnected, and that there were no employees, which is why he performed all tasks by himself.
He was not aware that he had to file the report, nor did he have a legal advisor to inform him to that extent.
Even though the Agency decided that he had no intention of concealing his property, he was, same as in the case of Ivan Tasovac, pronounced a “preventive” measure of reprimand.
„I filed the data when I was told I should do that too”, said Goncić for CINS. “They told me I was late, we apologized, they accepted that, and there was this measure, they wrote the letter of reprimand. I think this is alright.”
Another SNS candidate, Mirko Rajković, currently member of the City assembly and member of the directors board of Agricultural Corporation Belgrade (PKB), failed to submit the report on property in 2014, when he entered into this function; thus, in September 2014, he was pronounced the measure of reprimand by the Agency.
Delayed reports on property
The SPS – JS coalition decided to appear at the city elections independently, even though together with SNS they constitute a majority in the current Assembly of the City of Belgrade. The first person on the list is Aleksandar Antić, minister of mining and energy, while the list includes five candidates who had violated the Law on the Agency while performing of their functions.
Rejected cases against Šapić
Aleksandar Šapić, Mayor of the Municipality of New Belgrade, is not a part of city authorities, but is a candidate for the mayor at the forthcoming elections.
In 2016 the Anti-Corruption Agency suspected that Šapić had committed tax offence, as he did not manage to explain why he had failed to report personal savings and how he had earned the property the value of which exceeds 35 million Serbian dinars.
The Agency filed two reports on Šapić to the Tax administration in July and in December 2016; the Tax administration later filed these reports to the City of Belgrade Public Revenue Office and the Third basic prosecutor’s office.
Šapić said for CINS that the issue occurred because he had failed to pay taxes for the facilities he owed in the municipality of Savski venac: “At that moment I was truly unaware of the new law from 2015 and the fact that I also had to pay taxes for facilities which were in the process of legalization.” He added that the issue was resolved by his signing of the document of the Public revenue administration by which his debt was reprogrammed for the period of one year.
In January this year, the Third prosecutor’s office concluded there were no elements of the criminal offence of failure to report property, while a part of the case was filed to the First basic prosecutor’s office which had investigated the criminal offence of construction without construction permit. This case was also rejected because there were no elements of criminal offence.
Thus, Ljubiša Đurović, who had been occupying various functions since 2008, was pronounced the measure of reprimand by the Agency in August 2013, as he had transferred his managerial rights in his company Paling with a delay of 377 days following his stepping into the position of Deputy Mayor of the City municipality of Palilula.
In his statement, Đurović said that he ceased performing the function of the company manager following the notification of the Agency on initiating a case against him in July 2013, and that the company was inactive since he stepped into the function of Deputy Mayor.
In December 2013, he became member of the assembly of Serbian Export Credit and Insurance Agency (AOFI), while in November 2016 he also became acting manager of Cultural centre Vlada Divljan.
Besides Đurović, a candidate on the same list is Slavica Sunturlić, member of the Supervisory board of Public Company Gradsko stambeno Beograd from 2013 till the present date, who was also assistant director of the Treasury in the period 2007-2010. She was delayed with filing of the report on property for a year and eight months, submitting in two days prior to initiation of proceedings.
In March 2015, she was “preventively” pronounced a measure of reprimand.
The name of Veselin Marković, former acting director of Public Company Gradsko stambeno Beograd in the period from July 2012 to December 2014, who had also violated the Law on Agency, is also included on the SPS list. The Agency pronounced him a measure of reprimand in March 2013 because he had failed to submit the report on property in due time.
Marković explained that he was positive a company representative had filed the report instead of him, which is why he filed the report himself 200 days after the prescribed deadline. Following his leaving of the institution, Marković was appointed director of Public Company Infostan Beograd, occupying the position from the end of 2014 to the end of 2015.
Measures of reprimand against candidates from the SPS list were also pronounced to Aleksandar Milovanović, Director of Serbian Institute of Occupational Health Dr. Dragomir Karajović, and Nataša Gaćeša, member of the Assembly of state company Dipos and international secretary of SPS.