Transparency Serbia: Political Parties didn’t Disclose the Names of 120 Campaign Donors26. July 2012 - 11:22 — Dejan Georgievski
Political parties in Serbia didn’t disclose the identity of 120 big donors who contributed more than 109 million RSD to finance campaign activities for Parliamentary and Presidential Elections, show the results of the survey conducted by Transparency Serbia, released yesterday, July 25, 2012. The coalition led by the Socialist Party of Serbia (SPS) has the largest number of anonymous donors.
Nemanja Nenadić, Transparency Serbia Programming Director, said that the total anonymous contributions amount to 60% of all contributions reported by the political parties which, he noted, indicates the actual scope and magnitude of violations of the law that transpired. Transparency Serbia Director Vladimir Goati said that it was obvious that political parties broke the law, which is the only possible explanation why they spend more money campaigning than they reported.
All political parties in Serbia are obligated to report the names of the donors that contributed more than the average monthly salary in Serbia, i.e. more than 38,000 RSD (app. €330).
According to the survey, most undeclared donations – 84 anonymous donors contributing close to 54 million RSD (app. €470,000) - were associated with the SPS-led coalition, including the 19 undisclosed donors of the United Regions of Serbia party who contributed more than 51 million RSD (app. €444,000).
On the issue of campaign expenditures reported by the parties, especially the costs of outdoor advertising on billboards and organization of rallies and other gatherings, Nenadić noted the difference between what they released and the situation that Transparency Serbia monitors found on the ground.
Nenadić said that the greatest responsibility for analysis of financial reports lies with the Agency for Prevention of Corruption, which should ensure a comprehensive set of controls of campaign spending. He added that the fate of the Law on Financing of Political Activities will depend on the actions of the Agency and procedures it may eventually launch against violators, and also noted the important role of the National Broadcasting Agency, the National Auditing Institution, prosecution and police authorities.
He commented on the announcement coming from the Agency that it will work to audit the financial reports over the next six months, and said that he, too, would like to see it done much sooner, but also that it was much more important that the process results in actual charges, if necessary, which will not be ignored by the police and the prosecution authorities.
Vladimir Goati said that he didn’t know any way, other than breaking the law, that would explain the fact that some parties spent more money on their campaigns than what they received from public sources or reported they collected from donors.
Goati said that there are proven cases of discrepancies between money received and spent with several political parties, and yet, no official investigation has been launched.
“Should we eliminate the possibility that those parties used alchemy to materialize the money out of thin air, competent authorities should check their campaign financial reports” Goati said.
He said that it was important to prevent influential people in their intent to “redistribute power and influence” on the political scene, with the aim to take the best possible position for the division of loot after the elections.
He wouldn’t comment on the determination of the future Government of Serbia to fight the corruption, believing it was too early for such an assessment and adding that the previous Government would hardly get a passing grade for its efforts in that area. (Source: euractiv.rs/Civic Initiatives)