At today's session, the Council of the Agency for the Prevention of Corruption discussed the Report on the Implementation of the APC’s Work Plan for the second quarter of 2021.
It was stated that in the reporting period, all activities envisaged by the said document were implemented.
The APC’s Council reiterated the initiative to hold meetings with representatives of the Ministry of Interior - Police Administration, Revenue and Customs Administration and Cadastre and State Property Administration, to exchange data and develop a methodology for checking the income and assets of the public officials.
When it comes to the results of the work, in the field of preventing conflicts of interest and respecting restrictions in the performance of public functions, 47 opinions were given on the existence of conflicts of interest and restrictions in performing public functions, after which 6 resignations were submitted from public functions.
A total of 1,004 income and asset reports were submitted on various grounds. 5,721 regular annual reports were submitted within the legal deadline, whereby 90.12% of public officials and civil servants fulfilled their legal obligation.
In the second quarter, in accordance with the Annual Plan, the accuracy and completeness of data in 247 reports were checked, and the reports of 20 high-ranking public officials were checked, in accordance with the degree of vulnerability of the area / function to corruption.
In the area of the control of financing of political entities and election campaigns, 1,183 reports submitted by subjects to the Law on Financing of Political Entities and Election Campaigns on regular work and during the election campaign in the municipalities of Niksic and Herceg Novi were controlled.
Measures to suspend the transfer of budget funds to finance regular work were imposed or measures of loss of these funds for 9 political entities that did not submit reports to the Agency, and have won mandates at the state or local level. After the fulfillment of obligations by political entities, the Agency sent a notice to the municipalities on the termination of the measure of suspension of funds for four political entities.
During the control of the accuracy and completeness of the reports of political entities, i.e. the control of the funds collected and spent during the election campaign, a total of 35 irregularities were recorded.
In the second quarter, 65 controls of compliance with prohibitions and restrictions were conducted during the election campaign in Herceg Novi. A review of 2,246 contributors to political entities for regular work in 2020 and the election campaign for the elections in Niksic and Herceg Novi was conducted.
In all cases of identified irregularities, where this was possible due to legal inconsistencies, misdemeanor proceedings were initiated.
There were 35 whistleblower reports in the report period, 13 of which were submitted anonymously. During the second quarter of 2021, there were a total of 112 whistleblower reports (including reports from the previous period). Eleven proceedings have been completed and the existence of threatening the public interest has been established in three.
Of the two proceedings initiated ex officio due to suspicion of the threat to the public interest which indicates the existence of corruption, in one of them the merits have not been determined, while the other is in progress. An ex officio procedure from the previous period was completed, in which the existence of threat to the public interest which indicates the existence of corruption was determined, and a recommendation was given to the legal entity to improve transparency and eliminate corruption risks, which was implemented.
During the second quarter of 2021, two requests for protection of whistleblowers were submitted. Acting on the requests from this and the previous period, APC issued two opinions in which it determined that the damage had occurred, i.e. that there was a possibility of the damage to the whistleblower, and one procedure was suspended. One procedure on the request from 2020 is in progress.
In the second quarter, 16 protocol gifts, 3 sponsorships and 240 donations were reported to the Agency. As expected, due to the Covid-19 virus pandemic, a significantly lower number of reported gifts and sponsorships was recorded in the first half of the current year, while, on the other hand, for the same reasons, the number of reported donations increased - by 50.1% more than previous year.
In the area of integrity, in the reporting period, 13 bodies for the first time issued a decision on the appointment of integrity managers, and 9 state authorities adopted and submitted an integrity plan for the first time. In that period, 618 reports on the implementation of the integrity plan in 2020 were submitted to the Agency. Six natural persons and one legal entity are currently registered in the register of lobbyists.
The Department for Monitoring Regulations and Giving Opinions on Regulations in the Field of Anti-Corruption only in the first half of 2021 issued more opinions than at the level of the entire 2019 and 2020. In addition, in the second quarter of 2021, two draft Opinions were drafted, and the Agency sent an initiative to the Parliament of Montenegro to amend the Law on Misdemeanors under Urgent Procedure, in order to harmonize the Law with the Law on Financing of Political Entities and Election Campaigns, of which implementation is supervised by the Agency.
In the second quarter of 2021, the Agency initiated 134 administrative proceedings against public officials. A total of 47 proceedings (including cases from the previous period) were completed and violations of the Law were found in 34 cases (72.3%). Violations of the law were found in all completed cases initiated by APC ex officio.
Observed on a semi-annual basis, the Agency initiated a total of 160 administrative proceedings, which is as much as 70% more than in the same reporting period last year, and 65% more than in the first half of 2019. Additionally, the percentage of determined violations is higher in the first half of 2021 (78.6%) compared to the same reporting periods of the previous two years (first half of 2020 - 54.3%; first half of 2019 - 60.3%).
Due to violations of anti-corruption laws within its competence, the Agency initiated a total of 455 misdemeanor proceedings in the second quarter of 2021. In the mentioned period, a total of 183 proceedings were completed (including proceedings on requests from previous years and executed orders), of which 88% were sanctioned. The total amount of fines, including realized warrants, is € 30,242.
Based on the APC proposal for confiscation of property gains obtained by committing misdemeanors, in addition to imposing fines, the courts confiscated property gains in two cases (from 2021 and 2019) in the total amount of € 8,655.
In the second quarter, the Agency continued the implementation of all activities related to support and coordination in the implementation of international standards and measures to combat corruption, established in international conventions and organizations of which Montenegro is a member, as well as the active role of APC in Montenegro's accession to the European Union. In addition, intensive bilateral cooperation was established with representatives of embassies in Montenegro, international organizations and state institutions of foreign countries.
In addition, regular meetings were held with representatives of the non-governmental sector in order to improve the quality of the election process and identify areas for possible upgrading of the existing legislative framework in this area, in the context of local elections in Niksic and Herceg Novi.