State Audit Office has discovered suspicious payments paid out by the government during Prime Minister Milanović’s term.
The State Audit Office found suspicious payments in office of former Prime Minister Zoran Milanović while he was in power. According to the audit report for 2015, his office paid 307,785 kuna for international travel per diems to his special advisers – Neven Budak, Siniša Petrović and Slavko Goldstein. However, some of them claim that they did not travel anywhere, reports HRT on February 5, 2017.
They allegedly received more than 500 per diems for international travel, but they never submitted reports about their travels or filed any other credible documentation that would confirm that they had indeed travelled. Two advisers were paid 186 per diems, while the third was paid 160 per diem, which would mean that each of them spent almost half a year on business trips.
While the report does not mention advisers’ names, it does specify that one of them was a culture advisor, and that was Slavko Goldstein, who explained that he never travelled anywhere as an advisor. “Neither in 2015 nor in any other year, and I was an advisor for four years, I have never travelled abroad. I have never received per diems for any travels”, said Goldstein.
Special advisor for science Neven Budak claims the same. He travelled abroad only once, and that was in 2014. “This can be checked very easily. Whoever wants can see my bank account balances”, added Budak.
Travel expenses and per diems were allegedly approved by Tomislav Saucha, at the time the Chief of Staff of the Prime Minister, who claims that he had not actually approved any per diems to the advisors. “This is either a grave error, or someone is trying to plant something against us, or it is a serious criminal offense”, said Saucha. He added that he would file a report on Monday with the Office of the State Prosecutor. He believes that it will be easy to find the culprit, because whoever took the money had to sign receipts. He will insist that experts check his alleged signature on the documents.
In a statement issued on Sunday, Milanović’s party SDP said that it was a case of falsification and fraud and that the Office of the State Prosecutor should launch an immediate investigation. “From what is known so far about the findings of the State Audit Office, there are enough indications to believe that this is a case of falsification and fraud”, said SDP in the statement.
The statement adds that the party is surprised that government led by Prime Minister Tihomir Orešković, who succeeded Milanović as Prime Minister, had not checked what happened since it was informed about the issue.