Expenses Scandal Rocks Macedonia’s Anti-Graft Commission

Members of Macedonia’s state Anti-Corruption Commission have started resigning amid a scandal sparked by a report that notes dubious payments that they allegedly awarded themselves.
Members of Macedonia’s Anti-Corruption Commission. Photo: MIA

Goran Milenkov, a member of Macedonia’s Anti-Corruption Commission and its former head, tendered his irrevocable resignation to parliament on Monday, amid an unfolding scandal about dubious spending by Commission members.

Milenkov did not state the exact reason for his resignation, which comes days after he said on Friday that he felt “no moral responsibility” for the affair and does not intend to resign.

He then claimed there was “no corruption” in his commission and said suspected that the allegations were a form of “political pressure” directed against him and his colleagues, instigated by the new government elected last May.

Unofficially, unnamed sources told Telma TV on Monday that the current head of the commission, Igor Tanturovski, was also preparing his resignation. BIRN was unable to reach Tanturovski for comment either.

Media last week published a recent revision report carried out by the State Revenue Office, which noted several cases of dubious spending.

The report alleged that some members of the body of seven members who were elected in April 2015 had been reporting unrealistically high travel costs.

It said also that during supposed travels abroad they were also registered as regularly attending their offices.

Another part of the report stated that commission members were reimbursed for renting temporary lodging, which was three times more expensive than the regular market prices.

The Prosecution Office said it has already “ex officio” formed a case to investigate these and other suspicious expenditures.

Milenkov, who was the first to resign, became known to the wider public in 2016 for refusing to disclose the assets forms of the then outgoing government officials, including former Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski, former Interior Minister Gordana Jankulovska, former Transport Minister Mile Janakieski and former secret police chief Saso Mijalkov.

The Anti-Corruption Commission was mentioned in various reports commissioned by Brussels as one of the country’s weak links when it comes to the fight against widespread corruption.

In 2015, an expert group commissioned by Brussels produced a list of urgent reform priorities drafted in the so-called Priebe report. Among other things, the report noted the inactivity of the Anti-Corruption Commission regarding complaints on misuse of state resources during election campaigns.

This body was criticized for being practically silent over the past few years. However, over the past few months, after the government changed last year, it started opening cases of alleged corruption against current officials.

This came after the new Social Democrat-led government announced it was willing to change the Anti-Corruption Law in order to be able to dismiss members of this body, as part of a wider EU-sought reform of the judiciary and other crime fighting bodies.