This success story has been provided by the Serbian Anti-Corruption Authority and is posted on this site in its original form.
The obligation of persons holding public office in Serbia to disclose information on their personal property was for the first time established in April 2004 when the Law on Prevention of Conflict of Interest in Discharge of Public Office was passed. Stipulated by this law, a Republic Board for resolving conflict of interest was formed. The Board is an independent organ with the competence to manage the registry of the officials' private property, among other things. According to the afore-mentioned law, public officials with an obligation to report their assets to the Republic Board for resolving conflict of interest were all persons elected, nominated or appointed to organs of the Republic of Serbia, autonomous provinces, municipalities and towns, as well as to organs of public companies founded by the Republic, province, municipality or town.
From when it was established until it seized operating* in January 1, 2010, the Republic Board received between 4200 and 6800 asset declarations, per year**, even though the estimated number was around 14000 officials. The primary reason for which the public officials in Serbia did not take this duty seriously lies fundamentally in the fact that the prescribed measures of the aforementioned law were administrative in nature***. The Republic Board would determine these measures for public officials in cases when they did not perform their legal duties prescribed by the law and also when they did not disclose their property information.
Bearing in mind that the measures prescribed by the Law on Prevention of Conflict of Interest in Discharge of Public Office were insufficiently effective or successful, new measures had to be adopted. Aside the administrative measures, these were measures for misdemeanors prescribed by the Anti-corruption Agency Act for public officials who were violating provisions of the new law. Moreover, in case of a failure to report or giving false information about one's private property, the Anti-corruption Agency Act stipulates up to five years of imprisonment and prohibition to perform activities of public office for a period of 10 years as a result of a conviction of an official.
The Anti-corruption Agency Act has expanded significantly the definition of a public official to also include under the new law all those elected, nominated and appointed to organs of business entities, same as of organizations and institutions founded by the Republic of Serbia, province and units of local self-government and other persons elected by the National Assembly. Regardless of the fact that according to the Anti-corruption Agency Act not all public officials are obliged submit a asset declaration to the Agency****, at the time of the Agency's establishment it was still estimated that around 18,000 officials in Serbia would be under an obligation to submit their asset declarations.
In order to precisely manage this area, the Agency almost immediately after its law came into force, adopted Rules on the Registry of Officials and Property. These Rules also prescribe the form which the officials had to refer to when submitting their asset declarations. Furthermore, the Rules equally stipulate that all officials holding office at the time of the adoption of the Anti-corruption Agency Act must submit their asset declarations to the Anti-corruption Agency by January 31, 2010. At the same time, the Agency has launched the public campaign to promote the obligation of public officials to submit their asset declarations to the Agency. The final result of this initiative was that by the end of February 2010, the Anti-corruption Agency received over 16,500 asset declarations effectively making a total of 95% of public officials who had fulfilled their legal obligation.
In June 2010, the Agency made the information of these reports available to the public by publishing them on its website. Therefore, collecting the asset declarations of the public officials in Serbia and establishing the Registry of Officials and Property is what the Agency considers to be one of its greatest achievements in the first year of its operation. The biggest challenge in following years for the Agency will be to establish good and reliable mechanism with other state bodes, organizations, financial organizations, companies and other persons in order to check public officials’ asset declarations.
* Republic Board for resolving conflict of interest seized to operate on 1 January 2010 when the Law on Anti-corruption Agency came into force. The Agency, among other competences, took over all competences from the Republic Board for resolving conflict of interest.
** In 2005 Republic Board has received around 6200 asset declarations, in 2006 RB received around 5800, in 2007 RB received around 6800, in 2008 RB received around 4200 and after elections in May 2009 RB received around 5000 asset declarations.
*** In case of a violation of the Law, the Republic Board had the capacity to determine two measures for the official in question: a non-publicly warning and public announcement of recommendation for dismissal.
**** Deputies, members of administrative and supervisory boards of public enterprises, institutions or organization founded by a municipality or town are not under an obligation to submit a asset declaration to the Agency. Also, officials who are members of administrative and supervisory boards of public enterprises, institutions or organization founded by the Republic of Serbia, autonomous province and the city of Belgrade are not under an obligation to submit a asset declaration to the Agency, as long as they do not receive any compensation as a result of such membership.
Source: The World Bank Department of Institutional Integrity