The proceedings were launched based on an article in the Nacional weekly, which in September 2021 reported that at the time when he was State Assets Minister, Banožić allocated himself a 92-square-metre flat in downtown Zagreb for use, as well as based on a report that sought determining the place of residence of Banožić’s family.
The state-run Državne Nekretnine company, which manages state-owned property and which invested HRK 165,000 to renovate the flat allocated to Banožić, said in a submission to the Conflict of Interest Commission that the procedure to allocate the flat had been launched by the State Assets Ministry secretariat, by a note to Državne Nekretnine on 26 July 2019.
Državne Nekretnine said that in line with the relevant law, the allocation of the flat was conducted by the State Assets Ministry, and that the decision on the allocation of the flat in question was made by Banožić, at the time serving as State Assets Minister, on 6 September 2019.
Conflict of Interest Commission member Tatijana Vučetić said the Commission should establish if the office-holder met the criteria for the allocation of a flat of that size, to which he would be entitled in case his spouse and children lived with him.
However, it has been established that the place of residence of Banožić’s wife and children is Vinkovci and that it has not been changed for the duration of both of his ministerial terms.
At the start of his term as State Assets Minister, Banožić was given a smaller flat in downtown Zagreb for use, with Državne Nekretnine saying at the time that the flat was not adequate and that another flat would possibly be available at another downtown location soon.
For that flat, as well as another two flats to be given to office-holders for use, their status had to be changed to that of flats used by office-holders, Vučetić said, noting that even though a decision to that effect is made by the competent commission, in this concrete case, Banožić himself made a decision changing the status of the flats in question and on the same day allocated himself one of the flats.
The Commission also notes that the regulation cited by the State Assets Ministry as the basis for changing the status of the flat and its allocation reads that decisions on the allocation of state-owned flats for use by office-holders are made by the competent body, which, the Conflict of Interest Commission notes, does not mean by default that such decisions are made by the body’s head.
The Commission therefore believes the case is a possible violation of the law on the prevention of conflict of interest and that the official abused his special rights and made decisions securing for himself the right to use a state-owned flat.
Proceedings not launched against FinMin Marić
The Commission did not launch proceedings against Finance Minister Zdravko Marić for spending some of his vacation time on a yacht owned by his friend, businessman Blaž Pavičić.
It was established that Marić had in no way been involved in the making of decisions, identification of violations or misdemeanor proceedings involving businesses owned by his friend and that the ministry he heads did not have business relations with those companies.
Commission rapporteur Davorin Ivanjek said that the Commission had previously stated that in the case of declared friendships one could not speak of impermissible gifts considering that common gifts between family members, relatives and friends are allowed.
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