Serbia: Training of specialists to inspect assets of politicians, entrpreneurs and citizens begins

Serbia: Training of specialists to inspect assets of politicians, entrpreneurs and citizens begins

The training of a special group of 30 people in charge of scouring the accounts of political officials, business persons, but also ordinary citizens, will begin in March next year, when the law on determining the origin of property and excise tax will enter into force.

This will be handled by a special unit of ​​tax administration and will comprise a total of 60 members.

The Ministry of Interior, the National Bank of Serbia, the Administration for the Prevention of Money Laundering, the Agency for the Prevention of Corruption, the Geodetic Authority of the Republic, the Agency for Business Registers and the Central Registry, Storage and Taxation Securities also have their experts in this special unit of tax administration.

In addition to bills, real estate, savings and vehicles, it will also be checked whether everything was acquired legally. Those failing to prove the legitimacy of their assets shall face large fines and huge taxes.

According to the law, those who are suspected or found to have, for a maximum of three consecutive calendar years, a difference of more than 150,000 euros between the increase in assets and the reported income, are expected to face repercussions.

The annual guidelines issued by the director of tax administration based on a risk analysis shall determine who will be audited, however the process can also be initiated at the request of a citizen or an institution.

The law also stipulates that the tax rate is up to 75% for illegally acquired property, amounting for the difference between the increase in property and the reported income for which an individual cannot prove its derivation.

Legal entities that do not submit the required evidence from the special unit of the tax administration may be fined from 100,000 to two million dinars. Anyone that violates the professional confidentiality of the data obtained during the process of determining property and excise tax shall face a fine ranging from 50,000 to 150,000 dinars.

Although many administrations over the last 20 years have promised the adoption of an effective mechanism to determine whether someone has become rich illegally, this work was eventually completed only by the previous government of Ana Brnabić.

The law on determining the origin of property and excise tax was adopted in February; it entered into force on March 11 and its implementation will begin in a little over three months, that is, March 2021.

This law is expected to largely put an end to the long practice of reciprocal accusations between the government and the opposition regarding the illegal acquisition of property.

Authorities have repeatedly stated that they would not be protected by law enforcement, while President Aleksandar Vucic said he “would like to be among the first to be questioned.” He added that neither his property nor that of his family had increased by a single dinar since 2012, whereas many who ascended to power in 2003 and left in 2013 can not say the same.

When they assume office, all officials are required to report all their assets to the Anti-Corruption Agency – profits, real estate and privately owned vehicles, as well as savings and shares in companies. They are also required to report any changes to their assets.

Following the ratification of the Anti-Corruption Law in September, the Agency can conduct a direct inspection of all documents necessary for its work, and in the event of discrepancies in the data, it also checks the property of the relatives of the civil servant under investigation. /ibna