Situation With the President of Senate of State Audit Institution

Questions of the reporter from daily Vijesti:

  1. 1. How do you comment information that the Government paid 250,000 euro to the former finance minister in order to help his defence during the trial against him in Italy?
  2. 2. Do you think that Ivanisevic, being a president of Senate of State Audit Institution, can still perform his duty in controlling the Government?

Answers of our associate, Marko Sosic:

The Law on SAI defines that nobody can exert influence over the member of the Senate during the performance of his duties, but also, the members themselves should avoid situations which might harm the reputation of this institution and cause a doubt in its independence and objectivity.

According to the Code of Ethics of civil servants in SAI, servant, or someone related to him or her, cannot participate in business or financial transactions or actions which might harm the public interest or reputation of the institution, or give an impression that they are in the conflict between their personal and public interests. They are also not allowed to use their working position and competences to obtain certain advantages and privileges. The SAI’s employees should protect their independence, by avoiding receiving gifts, expressions of gratitude, and any kind of relations which might influence, endanger, or threaten the audit’s ability to function indepently and to be percieved accordingly. Also, they must not use their position for private purposes, and they must avoid all the relations which include the risk of corruption or which might cause doubt in their independence and objectivity. Within the SAI, no Code of Ethics for the members of its Senate was adopted, although it was recommended by SIGMA. SAI itself recognised this problem, by including it in the Strategic plan for the development of SAI for the period between 2012 and 2017.

If the information from the daily Vijesti is correct, no matter of the amount of money allocated, the intention with which it was given, and no matter of whether it will be compensated by the third party or not, situation in which the president of the Senate is a user of the state’s financial aid might be harmful in terms of the public trust in State Audit Institution, which is, on the other hand, extremely important for the success of its work and influence at the public finances system.

As a person representing and advocating recommendations of this institution, president of the Senate has bigger responsibility in respecting the afore-mentioned rules of Code of Ethics, in their widest sense.

Here, the issue of systemic regulation of the state aid to the state and public officials, which are tried in front of domestic, foreign or international courts, is being opened. This issue is not regulated by the specific acts. On the contrary, it functions at the request to the Government and subsequent approval based on the budget reserves. That’s not the good way and we think that this issue should be regulated exclusively with repsect to the persons who have been finally acquitted.

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