Amendments to the Criminal Code to narrow the space for corruption


MANS submitted yesterday to the Ministry of Justice a set of comments on the proposed amendments to the Criminal Code of Montenegro, which has recommended the introduction of new criminal offenses.

In this regard, we have recommended criminalization of illicit enrichment of public officials, because we are witnessing the standard of living of Montenegrin government officials, which cannot be explained by income from legal flows. In the past few years, MANS processed a number of cases that contained elements of conflict of interest and illicit enrichment. The most extreme examples are Svetozar Marovic and millions of his wife’s millions secretly held in Swiss banks, as well as the case of the former director of the Police Administration Veselin Veljovic, whose passion for expensive and fast BMWs and real estate in prestigious sites could not be afforded by means of his official income.

The criminalization of illicit enrichment would contribute to the fight against corruption in the country, while the prosecution could be more prompt and efficient in providing evidences. We remind that the United Nations Convention against Corruption, which was ratified by Montenegro in 2006, in Article 20 recommends that signatory States consider adopting such legislation and other measures that may be necessary to establish illicit enrichment, that is a significant increase in resources public official that he/she cannot reasonably explain in view of his/her legal income, when committed intentionally, as a criminal offense. Illicit enrichment has been so criminalized, so far, in 44 countries that ratified the Convention.

In addition to this offense, MANS has suggested the criminalization of bribery of MPs or the sanctioning when a MP or a councilor require or receive bribes or accept an offer or a promise of a bribe in order to vote in a certain way. We are aware that the prosecution has not been able to adequately respond to the increasing suspicions of political corruption, especially when MPs and councilors vote in favor of a law or planning documents which directly pander to the profit interests of tycoons, at the expense of public interest.

Similarly, a new criminal offense the we propose is a so-called “subsidy fraud” – when the offender achieves state aid by providing inaccurate or incomplete information about the facts on which the decision on state aid depends, or fails to notify the state aid provider about changes important for the decision. Misuse of state aid and the existence of the so-called “hidden state aid” are most visible when giving the so-called government guarantees for the failed private companies and their projects on the basis of data which did not reflect their real condition.

Both of these offenses already exist in the Croatian Criminal Code, as well as the criminal offense of illegal contracts, the introduction of which MANS has also proposed. In this case, an official or a responsible person, on the basis of the agreement, favors an economic entities by adjusting the conditions of procurement or contract a bidder whose bid was contrary to the terms of the tender documents. MANS has been warning that the area of ​​public procurement is very sensitive to corruption, and that there is a lack of accountability for a number of tenders that have failed for these reasons.

MANS has identified the mentioned offenses based on years of experience in investigating corruption in these areas. Furthermore, their introduction would enable the prosecutorial and judicial apparatus to easier prove and process the most common criminal offenses with elements of corruption. We expect that the Ministry of Justice should have understanding for efforts to make the Criminal Code of Montenegro as good as possible and to narrow the space for corruption at the same time.


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