At today's meeting, the Council of the Agency for Prevention of Corruption discussed the Report on the implementation of the APC Work Plan for the third quarter of 2022.
It was unanimously stated that there is still a growth trend in all areas of work, as well as a high degree of completion of administrative and misdemeanor proceedings. Also, the results in the area of opinion on anti-corruption regulations were praised, where in the first nine months of this year the Agency analyzed 70% more regulations compared to the entire year 2021 and more than in the previous four years combined.
In the domain of preventing conflicts of interest and respecting restrictions on the performance of public functions, in the third quarter of 2022, acting on all received requests, the APC issued 50 Opinions. Based on the given Opinions of the Agency, 8 resignations of public officials were submitted in the third quarter.
In the first three quarters of 2022, a total of 9,987 reports on income and assets were submitted to the Agency on different basis of submission (of which 1,260 in the third quarter), which is 4.4% more compared to the same reporting period of the previous year.
In the 3rd quarter, the accuracy and completeness of 202 reports on income and assets was verified, which means that 71.5% (951) of the 1,330 planned reports have already been verified. The most complex type of verification of income and assets of public officials is ongoing - additional verification, while in the domain of monitoring the lifestyle of public officials, the Agency submitted one case to the Special State Prosecutor's Office this year.
In the III quarter, according to all the bases of the work of the Section for Implementation of Control Measures in Financing of Political Entities and Election Campaigns, the control of 17,345 reports submitted by subjects to the LFPEEC on regular work and during election campaigns for the elections held in 14 local governments was carried out. In order to deliver the report within the deadline, as well as in the case of observed technical irregularities, the agency sent a total of 781 warnings to the authorities, to which they all reacted positively.
Due to the violation of the provisions of the LFPEEC, in the third quarter of 2022, the Agency submitted 59 requests for initiation of misdemeanor proceedings to the competent misdemeanor courts.
In the third quarter of 2022, there were 48 whistleblower reports, of which 27 were submitted anonymously. In the first nine months of 2022, the agency received more whistleblower reports compared to the annual level of the first five years of APC's work and almost at the level of the entire year 2021, which continues the trend of increasing the number of reports.
In this period, the Agency had 233 whistleblower reports (including reports from previous years). 24 procedures based on reports were completed, in which the existence of threats to the public interest, which points to the existence of corruption, was not established. In the reporting period, 5 recommendations to subjects to the law for improving transparency and eliminating corruption risks were implemented, which means that all recommendations given by the APC during the first half of 2022 have been implemented.
The Agency initiated a procedure ex officio due to suspicion of endangering the public interest, which points to the existence of corruption, which is ongoing. There are 4 more proceedings initiated ex officio from the previous period.
In the reporting period, the Agency handed over four proceedings to the competent prosecutor's offices, which are ongoing, while for two reports from the earlier period feedback was provided that an investigation had been initiated. One report was forwarded to another competent institution, while for one report from an earlier period feedback was provided that no irregularities were found. There are also 34 procedures pending before other competent authorities based on whistleblower reports from the previous period.
During the 3rd quarter, one request for whistleblower protection was submitted, and two procedures from the previous reporting period are ongoing.
In the third quarter, 6 authorities for the first time adopted a decision on the appointment of an integrity manager, and the same number of authorities for the first time adopted and submitted an integrity plan to the Agency in printed and electronic form.
In the third quarter, three initiatives were prepared:
In the third quarter, the Agency initiated 8 administrative proceedings against public officials for violating the Law on Prevention of Corruption, and all proceedings are ongoing.
Also, the Agency initiated 8 administrative procedures acting on complaints due to suspected violations of the LFPEEC. In 4 cases, a decision was made that there was no violation of the law, while the remaining 4 proceedings are ongoing.
In the third quarter of 2022, due to violations of anti-corruption laws, the Agency submitted a total of 240 requests for initiation of misdemeanor proceedings to the competent misdemeanor courts. During the reporting period, a total of 201 proceedings were completed (including proceedings based on requests from previous years and implemented misdemeanor orders), of which sanctions were imposed in 92%. The total amount of fines amounts to €25,770.
With international support, in the third quarter, the Agency was dedicated to the analysis of the Law on Prevention of Corruption. Namely, as part of the Action against Economic Crime Montenegro project, APC, in cooperation with the Council of Europe, started a comprehensive analysis of LPC, which is carried out in three phases. The second phase is in progress, in which the parts of the Law related to conflict of interest and property records are analyzed, while the third phase will analyze the parts related to whistleblowers, integrity and misdemeanor provisions.
In order to improve communication and cooperation with the domestic and international public, during the reporting period, active work was done on the creation of the APC Communication Strategy, in cooperation with Council of Europe experts.
Activities regarding the harmonization of the Agency's internal procedures with ISO 9001 standards continued. The implementation of ISO standards will contribute to improving the quality of employees' work, professionalization, stronger responsibility, motivation and coordination of work processes, better use of resources and time, with the aim of harmonizing work processes with international standards. The implementation of the ISO 9001 standard was facilitated by the US Embassy in Montenegro.
As part of the second item of the Agenda, the APC Council considered the Report on the degree of implementation of the conclusions and initiatives brought by that body since the election of the new convocation in July 2019.
It was established that the APC Council has so far adopted 132 conclusions, of which 119 (90.15%) have been implemented or partially implemented. The implementation of 6 conclusions is in progress, and one conclusion has not reached the implementation stage. Six conclusions have not been implemented.