Montenegrin Deputy PM Dritan Abazovic has called on ruling majority MPs to support the draft Origin of Property Law, hailing the “anti-Mafia” bill as necessary to boost the country’s fight against organized crime and corruption.
“Our goal is to put an end to illegal enrichment of criminals and state officials. I would call it a law against the mafia,” said Abazovic, “I expect parliament’s support by adopting the law as soon as possible.”
The Ministry of Justice’s civil and minority rights general secretary, Boris Maric, says the draft anti-Mafia law has been compiled in cooperation with international experts. Under the bill, the State Prosecution will form financial teams to examine suspect property, and said property will be frozen when an investigation is launched.
“Civil proceedings will be initiated to confiscate illegally acquired property until the owner proves how he acquired it. Access to bank accounts in the country and abroad will be provided,” said Maric.
Deputy PM Abazovic’s counsellor Ivo Soc said a draft investigation could be launched under the new anti-Mafia law if the value of a property exceeds 50,000 euros.
When the new government was elected in December 2020, Prime Minister Zdravko Krivokapic promised legislation on the origin of property as a crucial step in Montenegro’s planned accession to the EU. Discussion on the bill, however, was postponed until the end of 2021.
The draft Origin of Property Law is set to go before a public hearing in the next 20 days, after which its final version will be sent to parliament. The law needs the support of at least 41 MPs, but parliament has not held a plenary session since 23 July.
The month prior, the largest partner in the ruling coalition, the Democratic Front, caused a government crisis when it announced a boycott of parliament, accusing Krivokapic of betraying voters and cooperating with the opposition.
In this year’s progress report on Montenegro’s application to join the EU, the European Commission said the country’s track record on the confiscation of assets for crime and corruption “needs to be further improved.”
“In the coming year, Montenegro should in particular…review the legal framework in the area of prevention of corruption to address the issues identified through its application, in order to strengthen the track record on prevention of corruption and the Agency’s performance in this respect,” reads the report.
Abazovic said he expects the support of all 81 MPs in the parliamentary assembly for the anti-Mafia bill.