GONG NGO Says Conflicts of Interest Prevention Commission Must Not be Destroyed

Total Croatia News

Updated on:

GONG Facebook page
GONG Facebook page

GONG underscored that the Commission could be left without key tools unless the provision on breach of ethical principles and rules of conduct is more precisely defined.

The NGO thinks that the Commission has been under attack from the ruling majority for a long time and that the ruling of the High Administrative Court of Croatia could leave the Commission without its key tools, such as the power to decide on breaches of the code of conduct.

GONG is worried that the Commission’s work as an important anti-corruption body will be virtually euthanased if the new law does not adopt GRECO’s recommendations, which would impose sanctions for the violation of those principles. GRECO thinks that regulating breach of the code of conduct is a key provision of the Act on Preventing the Conflict of Interest.

They recalled that Prime Minister Andrej Plenković started criticising the work of Commission chair Nataša Novaković after she started looking into his role in the Agrokor case and investing the travel of members of the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) to Helsinki by government’s plane.

GONG underscored that the Commission’s powers had been downsized after a decision of the Constitutional Court in July 2019, when former HDZ president Tomislav Karamarko filed a lawsuit.

Now a decision of the Commission has been quashed as the High Administrative Court concluded, in the case of Zagreb Mayor Milan Bandić, that the Commission misinterpreted its powers. This decision is a precedent also because the High Administrative Court has so far ruled just the opposite — that the Commission has the right to admonish officials for violating the code of conduct, GONG warned.

High Administrative Court has recently quashed a 2017 decision by the Conflict of Interest Commission which fined Zagreb Mayor Milan Bandić after his defence attorney paid bail with his own money and Bandić was also fined for receiving donations by citizens after the 2009 presidential election. The commission fined Bandić with the maximum fine of HRK 40,000 for the bail paid by the lawyer and for donations received after the presidential election campaign was over.

The High Administrative Court among other things concluded that the commission had erred in concluding that the donations paid after the election were an (inadmissible) gift, and explained that the money concerned was used to settle subsequent costs for electioneering.

As far as Hanžeković’s money is concerned, the court ruled that all citizens are equal before the law and that restricting an official “to receive bail money from anyone in a criminal proceedings represents unallowable restriction of their right to a defence.” 

Media outlets claim that the court’s decision will have a drastic impact on the commission’s powers.


Subscribe to our newsletter

the fields marked with * are required
Email: *
First name:
Last name:
Gender: Male Female
Please don't insert text in the box below!

Leave a Comment