On 21 May 2019, Serbian Parliament adopted a set of criminal regulations as well as the Anti-Corruption Law (“Law”).
The Law introduces several new features:
- Expanded competencies of the Anti-Corruption Agency (“Agency”): The competence of the Agency and its legal and financial independence have been expanded;
- Control of bank accounts: The Agency may at any time have an insight into the bank accounts of public officials, who, after assuming duty, must report their income and property, as well as the property of their spouses, children, parents, brothers and sisters. The Agency will need no consent to review the bank accounts of officials (this consent is needed for affiliated persons in case of existence of a reasonable doubt);
- Anonymous application: The Law introduces the possibility of the Agency to act upon anonymous reports;
- Functionary campaign: The part of the Law dealing with the so-called functionary campaign prescribes that the official must separate his actions as a representative of the public authorities from the political campaign and that the state funds cannot be used in political campaigns.
NGO experts have criticised the new Law alleging that these new changes are far worse than the proposals made in 2016. Namely, the experts have pointed out that the new Law fails to solve the practical issues that have been identified thus far and fails to introduce satisfactory solutions for preventing the misuse by public officials of promotional or functionary campaigns for political purposes.
The experts have further criticised the procedure for the appointment of the director of the Agency and the way of choosing members of the Council of the Agency, the issue of accumulation of functions, resolution of conflicts of interest, reporting of assets and punishment for giving false information on property and public revenues.
It remains to be seen in the months to come whether this new Law will bring the effects that the Government of Serbia was hoping to achieve when proposing this Law.
Should you have any questions or concerns regarding this matter, feel free to contact Nedeljko Velisavljević and Nenad Kovačević.