Montenegro MPs Back Checks on Politicians’ Assets

05 May 15

Montenegro MPs Back Checks on Politicians’ Assets

After claims that senior politician held an undeclared account in the Swiss arm of HSBC bank, Montenegrin MPs backed stricter checks on lawmakers’ assets and properties.

Dusica Tomovic

The Montenegrin parliament’s Legislative Committee on Monday backed amendments to the conflict of interest law, aiming at tighten up checks on officials’ assets.

The opposition’s proposal, submitted in March, came after allegations surfaced that the wife of a senior politician, Svetozar Marovic, at one time held an account containing 3.8 million dollars in the Swiss arm of HSBC, which he never declared.

The opposition said the proposed amendments to the Law on Prevention of Conflict of Interest would help the police, the tax authorities and prosecutors locate corruptly or secretly acquired assets and property.

The opposition says the tax records of all public officials need to be made public, which is not the case in the current law. Assets that are not reported need to be defined as “illegally acquired”, they say.

The opposition motion, which parliament has yet to debate, also widens the engagement of the National Commission for Conflicts of Interest, which is in charge of the property reports of public officials.

The amended law would oblige the commission to notify the Chief State Prosecutor of all findings of illicit assets of public officials.

“There is a reasonable suspicion that a number of top officials abused their office to acquire enormous property assets in the country and abroad,” the MPs said in their joint explanation submitted to parliament.

The current conflict of interest law requires public officials to file a statement on the day they take the office, listing their own assets and liabilities and those of their closest family members, and to update it yearly.

If the amendments are adopted, state officials will also have to prove the origin of their assets for two years after the termination of public service.

Source: Balkan Insight (Montenegro)