- Official vehicle for the needs of APC was acquired through a tender procedure that favoured the purchase of an expensive BMW.
- Director of APC made an illegal decision by which she assigned new BMW to herself for 24-hour use.
- Official license plates PG CGL48 were replaced by civilian ones (PG KT033), thus, the BMW became less conspicuous in everyday use.
Author: Dejan Milovac (MANS Investigative Centre)
The misuse of official vehicles for private purposes has become part of Montenegrin everyday life, but the case of the Director of APC shows that the credibility of that institution continues to collapse and is a clear sign that concrete results cannot be expected from an address that not only does not fight corruption, but has largely adopted such a pattern of behaviour as acceptable.
Black luxurious BMW with license plate PG CGL48 is just one of hundreds of official vehicles that we see every day on the streets of Montenegro. However, this vehicle is special in that it is used by Jelena Perović, Director of the Agency for Prevention of Corruption, an institution that should be the first line of defence of the public interest against corruption and misuse of state resources.
The data obtained by the MANS Investigative Centre point to numerous suspicions about the legality of the purchase and use of this vehicle.
APC bought this vehicle in March last year at a price of 35,000 euros, after a public procurement procedure in which the company “Voli-Motors”, the official importer of the BMW brand for Montenegro, was the only bidder.
The data from the tender documentation point to the suspicion that even before the end of the procurement procedure, APC knew which car their Director wanted to drive. Thus, the bid submitted by “Voli-Motors” was identical in technical details to the requirements of APC in the tender documentation, which most often happens when the car model is selected before the tender.
After the vehicle was thus purchased, the Director of APC assigned it to herself for permanent use (24 hours), although according to the Government Regulation on the use of vehicles owned by Montenegro, she did not have the right to do so.
The regulation stipulates that only the President of Montenegro, the President and Vice-Presidents of the Parliament, the Prime Minister and members of the Government of Montenegro, the Presidents of the Supreme and Constitutional Courts, the Supreme State Prosecutor and the Special Prosecutor for the fight against organized crime, and the Protector of Human Rights and Freedoms, have this privilege.
This document defines that permanent use can be granted to persons who are under special protection measures based on the assessment of the authority in charge of security affairs.
However, the Ministry of the Interior and the National Security Agency answered in the negative when asked whether the director of APC is a protected person, and whether a security assessment was conducted for her.
“The special purpose police unit, in accordance with its competences, did not send requests for the preparation of a security assessment of Jelena Perović’s degree of risk to the competent authority, the Agency for National Security, and therefore, they do not have security assessments. We were also informed that the Director of the Agency for Prevention of Corruption does not have the status of a protected person”, the Ministry of the Interior’s response to MANS’ questions states.
“Dear Sir, in accordance with your act, we inform you that the National Security Agency did not assess the need for personal protection for Jelena Perović, Director of the Agency for Prevention of Corruption”, the National Security Agency replied to MANS.
APC owns several passenger vehicles, the use of which is kept in official records, but only for the BMW used by the Director, the license plate number is not stated. MANS Investigative Centre discovered that APC recently replaced official plates on expensive BMW with so-called “civilian” plates number PG KT033, which made them less conspicuous in everyday use.
For about ten months that she has had this vehicle at her disposal, the director of APC has used the BMW privately and after work hours, and during weekends, she covered hundreds of kilometres. The data from the travel orders also show that Perović’s official BMW was also used for the trip to Slovenia, where she travelled on December 30 last year and spent the New Year’s holidays there. After that, the BMW travelled from Ljubljana to Belgrade, and in the eve of the Christmas holidays, the vehicle was returned to Montenegro.
MANS warns that the credibility of the institution that citizens should have the most trust in when it comes to the fight against corruption, continues to collapse.
“Here we are talking about a much bigger problem than the fact that the Director of APC seized benefits for herself that do not belong to her. This attitude towards state property actually shows why this institution was not able to process abuses of state resources and it is difficult to expect the Director of the Agency to investigate the private-official trips abroad of the President Milo Đukanović or Prime Minister Dritan Abazović, when she herself has adopted such pattern of behaviour as acceptable. The problem of corruption in Montenegro is of a systemic nature, and as such it must be solved through the strengthening of institutions in which there is no place for those to whom the public interest is not the first priority”, MANS stated.
APC did not answer the questions of the MANS Investigative Centre about the “New Year’s business trip” to Slovenia, and whether and how they have sanctioned the misuse of official vehicles in that institution.