Notary Public Service is public, notaries are obliged to be accountable to the public


The conclusion of the Anti-Corruption Agency, which held that notaries are not public officials, is another in a series of scandalous decisions of its director Sreten Radonjic, who every day proves that in that place is installed to effectively obstruct any meaningful attempt to fight against corruption in Montenegro.

By law, the notary service is a public service, and notaries perform tasks entrusted to them by the courts of Montenegro, while notarial acts definitely are public documents. Also, notaries are appointed by the Ministry of Justice, jurisdiction is determined according to official jurisdiction of the courts and they perform activities of public interest.  All these are points that support claims that notaries are public officials.

Having in mind the sensitivity of delegated activities, we believe that the notaries, as holders of public authority, without exception must be qualified as public officials and the public must have full insight into their work, as well as the assets and revenues.

This is particularly important in cases where they might be first witnesses of possible corruptive practices by concluded harmful contracts, particularly those concerning traffic of real estate. We recently witnessed numerous cases where the disputed contracts for the sale of state property are not only freely made, but also are without problems certified in the cadastre, and no one is responsible for that.

They are not rare cases where the notaries, as institutions that are the first in mediating between the two sides, have timely access to harmful intentions during contract signing, and that the lack of timely response resulted in the damage to the budget.

Therefore, we believe that is necessary that the work of notary service must be under public scrutiny because they are the ones obliged perhaps even more than ordinary citizens to recognize and report crimes, since their position as public servant provide them that right.

Unfortunately, so far we have had no such cases, which we justify not by the fact that there were no harmful intention, but that the reasons for such passivity of notaries should look at the other side. At the same time, the prosecution in the actual cases still does not identified what kind of role individual notaries had, and probably because of those reasons absent and massive charges against notaries who were involved.

We believe that notaries must be obliged to explain, at any time, their income and assets, precisely because they receive money to perform the tasks delegated to them by the state.

Unfortunately, the decision of the Agency Director Sreten Radonjic is definitely a step backwards when it comes to the efforts of the whole society to make a public positions in Montenegro less susceptible to corruption, and is definitely at a course that the Agency has followed so far. After transparency reduction of the Agency and the almost complete exclusion of the public from its work, Radonjic now clearly intends to reduce the number of those who are legally obliged to be accountable for their work to the public.

MANS will certainly seek in the appropriate legal proceeding to challenge the decision of the Agency when it comes to conflict of interest of notaries and to try correct the damage that Radonjic caused so far to this institution for the sake of the private and political interests of individuals and groups who have it installed at that position.

Dejan Milovac
Director of the Research Center of MANS

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