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Give and take

jura insajderThere are cases for which a long pre-criminal procedure is required; the authorities should be given not only peace, but also time to work. That’s why we, having checked how those responsible are doing their job, pulled out a case two years ago. In the TV show “Insider in Jura” it was announced that in 2013 the Ministry of Labor asked from the company Jura a donation – no less than two cars “for improvement of working conditions”. Jura donated it. And the story saw the light of the day at the time when the accusations appeared that Jura violated the rights of employees, and that the inspections, within the Ministry of Labor, were closing his eyes.

Jura did not hide that it had donated the vehicles:”The donation of two cars was realized after obtaining a request from the Ministry to improve the working conditions due to the lack of official vehicles. As members of the local community, we decided to officially fulfill the request without any hidden intent,” Jura said in response to the Insider.

At a time when all this was announced (May 2016), the Ministry, the Government and the State Audit Institution (DRI) were called by TS to investigate the case, initiate the punishment of those responsible, return vehicles that were passed to the law, and initiated the procedure for amending the regulations in order to solve the conflict of interests regarding gifts received by state authorities.

Namely, the Law on Donations and Humanitarian Aid prohibits the granting of or acceptance of passenger cars as a donation, as well as services, money, securities, property and other rights. In this case, not only has this limit been violated in the Law on Donations, there are already significantly more serious problems. First, the very situation in which a state body from a private firm that may be subject to inspection control asks for a “donation” can constitute essentially a bribe of extortion, which differs from the criminal offense only in that the benefit is not acquired by the individual but by the body.

An additional element of the absurd is the fact that the state, on the one hand, stimulates investors with tax money (Jura received significant subsidies, as TS wrote), and one the other hand, asks the same investor for vehicles that should have been procured from the budget.

Two years later we requested information and documents on the actions of the Higher Public Prosecutor’s Office in Kragujevac on the hierarchical lower public prosecutor’s offices in connection with this case – about the examination of a possible criminal offense prosecuted ex officio, and whether the prosecution led an investigation, criminal proceedings or concluded that there was no basis for this, which evidence was collected in relation to the case and what was the outcome of the criminal proceedings if it was conducted.

Many questions and the answer are short: in the period from 2013 ending with September 3rd 2018 in Kragujevac, no criminal complaint was filed against the persons mentioned in the request.  They did not answer the question of whether they acted on their own, but the answer can be guessed.

They replied, however, to the part of the letter in which the TS stated that the request, if the prosecution failed to act, could be treated as an initiative to undertake measures within its jurisdiction. Therefore, they took measures within their jurisdiction: the request was submitted to the VJT in Kraljevo – the Special Department for the Suppression of Corruption, having in mind the implementation of the Law on Organization and Jurisdiction of State Authorities in Combating Organized Crime, Terrorism and Corruption. 

Even the Public Prosecutor’s Office in Kraljevo did not sit with his bare hands, but replied that he had not been brought criminal charges related to the donation. And someone else is in charge of the initiative. The donation was “done” at the headquarters of the ministry, in Belgrade, so the acting Public Prosecutor’s Office in Belgrade is in charge of acting on the

initiative, to which the TS, concluded by the prosecutors from Kraljevo, has sent an identical request.

And on this same request sent to the Higher Public Prosecutor’s Office in Belgrade, even more crass answer was received – no case was created. The VJT did not declare and initiative to undertake measures within its jurisdiction.

TS addressed to the State Audit Institution: On the 21st of August in 2018 we sent a request and initiative, with a request to us if it acted within its powers regarding this donation. We also asked DRI to inform us whether she had planned to include it the audit procedures the grant contracts concluded by users of public funds.

Finally, if the DRI detected the existence of the systemic problem we are referring to, we asked for information about possible initiatives initiated by other state authorities to resolve these problems. There are no answers for now.

As there is no reply or on request to the Ministry of Labor to provide us with a donation contract, a copy of a written communication or a note of oral communication preceding the donation (request for donation or response to the offer of donation) and documents on how it was considered whether the contract should be concluded and whether they should receive a gift in light of the legality and possible negative effects on the work of the ministry.