Фото: ФБ страница на Агенцијата за управување со одземен имот

The Agency employs 45 people, half of whom are security guards. According to the systematization, there should be 75 employees. Thousands of vehicles are awaiting court rulings. The value of the confiscated property is an indicator of the (non)functioning of the anti-corruption system, writes Truthmeter.mk

We republish below Truthmeter’s article under our syndication agreement:

 

Author: Goran Lefkov

 

If one wishes to determine the extent of the fight against corruption in a country, one should just look at the amount of confiscated property. This figure is high in countries that strongly fight corruption. In Slovenia, for example, in 2017 the state confiscated property worth over 300m Euros in criminal and corruption cases. In the same year, we had about half a million Euros on various grounds.

According to Dimitar Nikolovski, Executive Director of Eurothink – Center for European Strategies, the epilogue of the entire anti-corruption system is seen in the figures of the Agency for Management of Confiscated Property. And the message we send through these figures is not very good.

When one looks at the entire anti-corruption system, it sends a message to people involved in corruption that they should not be afraid because no one touches their illegally acquired property from crimes. The state does not instill fear in criminals regarding the confiscation of property, says Nikolovski.

He cites the following example as an illustration:

An employee of the state administration or any perpetrator of criminal acts, if they work honestly and receives a salary of 500 Euros, in 20 years (which is the highest fine in North Macedonia), will earn 120,000 Euros. It is profitable for them to get involved in crime in the country, to earn 200,000 or 300,000 Euros and to serve up to 20 years in prison, because their property is safe due to the inefficiency of the institutions. In a word, corruption in North Macedonia is profitable, says Nikolovski.

The lack of staff and working conditions observed in the anti-corruption system did not pass the Agency for Management of Confiscated Property either. According to the systematization, the Agency should have 75 employees, but there are only 45 people, 25 of whom are security guards.

The director of the Agency for Management of Confiscated Property, Faton Asani says that with the resources and people at the disposal of the Agency, what has been done so far is a success.

The agency has been operating since 2009, for the first time a sales department was established in 2020. With these resources that I inherited, I have 5 times more success both in time and in subjects. I have achieved 5 times more in 4 years than them (the previous management of the Agency) in 8 years, says Asani.

He adds that this year they have been moved to new premises, where there is space to store documents and archives. Previously, the entire institution with 20 employees was located in 200 square meters.

 

There is no fight against corruption without an efficient system and resources

Former member of the Anti-Corruption Commission, Arif Musa, considers that the attitude of the state towards the Agency for Management of Confiscated Property is inadmissible.

This is an administrative issue that shows how much the Government is interested in equipping the Agency for Management of Confiscated Property. The interest of the parties is to stock up the public administration, the agencies and ministries, and where they really need people to work, they do not send anyone. By doing so, they block the work of the institution. In the other institutions, they do not even have a chair where to sit, and here, where work is needed, they do not staff the institutions. About 5,000 clientelistic administrators sat at home and received salaries, did nothing, while the institutions did not get the necessary staff, Musa said.

He adds that party corruption leads to absurdities. There have never been more employees in the administration and there has never been such a lack of people in the administration.

The Agency for Management of Confiscated Property points out that despite the lack of staff, the non-functioning of the anti-corruption system poses the biggest problems.

The Agency for Management of Confiscated Property should have a finished product, which means a final verdict, says the director of the Agency.

He emphasized the example with the verdict for the confiscated property from Sead Kočan, where property worth 17 million Euros should be confiscated, which is completely mortgaged in the bank.

This situation is confirmed by Slagjana Taseva, former president of the Anti-Corruption Commission.

When the investigation starts, we should also locate property that we can confiscate from them right away. This is done by the police, the Financial Police, the Office for Prevention of Money Laundering – according to the Law on Criminal Procedure this is done under the guidance of the public prosecutor. The public prosecutor should then propose to the court property that can later be confiscated in criminal proceedings. When filing an indictment, they should write specifically what they want to confiscate, because it has been acquired through crime. They should state exactly what is to be confiscated. We have already discussed this, but it doesn’t work. We have it on paper, we have it in law, but we do not have it in practice, Taseva told Inbox 7.

She adds that our prosecutors and judges do not finish their work beforehand and when the verdict is ready, it will say, for example, 3 million denars should be taken away. It neither specifies from where, nor which account number, nor in what form. No one has previously identified the specific property and now the Agency is starting from the beginning. It will find out if the person who has such a measure has something that can be taken away from them. That is not their job at all by law, Taseva thinks.

According to former anti-corruption activist Musa, this situation is not conducive to the fight against crime and corruption.

The problem with the Agency for Confiscated Property is really devastating. Due to the inactivity of the judiciary, the value of confiscated items is now at zero. Some of those items can get bad, even be harmful to the environment, Musa said.