Serbian anti-corruption agency looks for new leader

15/11/2012

The state makes reforms to the Serbia Anti-Corruption Agency after allegations of wrongdoing were leveled at its director.

By Igor Jovanovic for Southeastern European Times in Belgrade -- 15/11/12

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Zorana Markovic was dismissed on Tuesday (November 13th) as director of the Serbia Anti-Corruption Agency. [International Radio Serbia]

The Serbian Anti-Corruption Agency Committee will launch a public search to replace Director Zorana Markovic on Thursday (November 15th).

Markovic was removed Tuesday from the state agency, which began operating in January 2010, for "actions that were harmful to the agency's reputation," according to the committee.

According to B92, an investigation launched last month showed that Markovic attempted to allocate a state-owned apartment in Belgrade for herself. She has denied the allegations.

"It is my fault for not having reacted earlier to the warnings of committee members and launching proceedings against the director, but I wanted to harmonise work and avoid the current situation," Committee President Zoran Stoiljkovic told SETimes.

Board Secretary Tatjana Babic will serve as acting director until the process to choose an official head is completed in about two months.

The tumultuous events in the agency assigned to fight corruption, which citizens said is one of the biggest problems in the state, have also brought up questions regarding the work of the agency itself.

According to a survey conducted by the agency, after two and a half years of work, a third of the Serbian population is not aware of its existence.

"I haven’t heard of the agency at all before this. Did they put some important politician or businessmen in jail? If not, I am not sure how agency chief got sacked could endangere the fight against corruption. I hope this would improve their work," Sinisa Zaric, a Belgrade salesman, told SETimes.

"In nearly three years of existence, the agency has failed to build much of a public reputation. It avoided investigation into how politicians acquired their wealth and what the causes of corruption in the country are," Vladimir Radomirovic from the Pistaljka (The Whistle) anti-corruption internet site, told SETimes.

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He added that the agency has not utilised its authority, and both Markovic and the committee members are to blame for that.

"According to the law, the agency is authorised to co-ordinate the work of state bodies in the fight against corruption and it hasn't even attempted to do so. Hence, one might say it has failed to justify its own existence. However, if the agency at least demonstrated the will to investigate certain important corruption and conflict-of-interest cases over the next few months, then it would easily win the public's trust," Radomirovic said.

Zlatko Minic, vice chairman of the agency committee, told SETimes that because of the dismissal, a distorted image of the institution's work was being created. "We do not want everything that has happened to create the wrong public image of the agency, which has done a great deal in certain fields. What is happening now will only additionally strengthen the agency's work and enable even greater efforts toward reducing corruption," Minic said.

"The dismissal of Zorana Markovic may not necessarily jeopardise the fight against corruption, if the agency starts doing the job it was given by law," Radomirovic said.

This content was commissioned for SETimes.com.
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