Saturday, March 05, 2011
WikiLeaks: U.S. Ambassador links Montenegrin Government with Criminal-Like Clans
The United States on Montenegro
WikiLeaks Exclusive: There are links of criminal clans and government officials
Few countries in Europe have such a bad reputation when it comes to the fight against corruption as Montenegro, said U.S. Ambassador in Podgorica Roderick Moore in a dispatch sent by the State Department in September 2009.
Moore explained this reputation and the issue of conflict of interest as a result politicians being at a high level of well-positioned businesses, for example, Moore explained the position of the Vice President of the ruling DPS, Svetozar Marovic.
Marovic was allegedly linked to 22 separate companies either directly or through family members. According to Moore, “Frequent rumors claimed that one cannot make a significant job in Budva without Marovic’s blessing.”
The Montenegrin Bank is the only institutions that has benefited from the government's package of 40 million euros, which was the result of the global economic crisis. Many other senior politicians also have significant business interests, including interests in public companies, Moore wrote.
Americans claimed that in Montenegro, as well as in other transitional societies in this region, excessive weaknesses include broad preference of old friends and nepotism, poor control over conflict of interest, and it was observed that legal impunity for persons associated with the ruling party and the failure of the judicial system to effectively and consistently punish corrupt officials.
Assessing the nature and extent of corruption in Montenegro is difficult to quantify, Moore said, and that various reports indicate that corruption is happening on most levels.
Speaking about the factors of corruption in Montenegro, he wrote that the manipulation of the economic transition from the well-connected people made high-ranking politicians and a small group of oligarchs very rich.
"Despite the adoption of improved legislation on conflict of interest, this issue continues to strain Montenegro. The most problematic aspect of this is that public officials, including government officials, judges, public prosecutors and their deputies, as well as parliamentarians, can be paid for positions as presidents or members of management and control bodies and the executive directors or managers of public corporations where the state or municipalities have the part,” wrote the U.S. ambassador.
Embassy without text
Another problem is that many public officials do not have to declare their assets, as required by law, or do not report everything, with little or no legal consequences. Moore noted that critics question the independence of the Commission for conflict of interest and express concern due to the absence of stricter penalties.
The U.S. Embassy in Montenegro did not want to comment on the documents expressed by WikiLeaks, claiming that “The U.S. Embassy cannot speak about the authenticity of documents submitted to the media which state the dispatch of the U.S. Government. As part of our policy, the U.S. government does not comment on the documents that allegedly contain sensitive information."
Relationships of power and criminal clans
According to a dispatch in July 2007, the embassy in Podgorica says that even with increased political will, Montenegro has no ability to attack organized crime.
The possible lack of political will and/or weak institutions explain the low number of judgments when it comes to corruption cases. Some of the other factors, which are listed in the document, the lax courts, selection of judges, inadequate cases of conflict of interest between judges and the cases that they deal with Stronger government action when it comes to transparency would help break down the occasional links between criminal clans and government officials, including the publishing of assets and increasing the visibility of decision-making.
It added that the structure of the budget for 2007 makes the funding of the judiciary vulnerable to political influence and that "the EU and others urged the government of Montenegro make the judiciary financially independent, which is a huge step in strengthening the rule of law and fighting corruption. There was no police action or trial against high government officials at the middle level of organized crime and corruption."
Nepotism and conflict of interest
The size of Montenegro, said Moore, it seems inevitable that everyone knows everyone in some way. In fact, claimed the dispatch, the use of “connections” is widely accepted as a way that things end up in Montenegro.
The tradition of relationship, however, contributes to an environment that reduces competition, multiplies the conflicts of interest and encourages nepotism in hiring. These factors were exacerbated by the fact that the same two parties were in power in Montenegro over the last decade, encouraging a bad habit that is weak, and a disunited opposition had little success to stop it.
In addition, many of those who have political power are prominent in the business world, which caused major issues related to conflict of interest.
According to Moore, Montenegro's institutions of law enforcement have had only limited success in prosecuting and punishing perpetrators of corruption, especially at the higher levels. In the first six months of 2009, of the 111 charges of corruption against 173 people, only one verdict was rendered.
Possible lack of political will and/or weak institutions explain the low number of judgments when it comes to corruption cases. Some of the other factors, which are listed in the document, the biased courts, selection of judges, inadequate dealings with conflicts between judges and the cases that they deal with, etc.
"Regulatory officials, such as inspectors for Planning, is not routinely reported to law enforcement authorities of dissent, while police and prosecutors rarely act on complaints of property owners and other citizens," wrote Moore.
Posted by Conference Organizer at 11:04 AM