The Indirect Taxation Authority of Bosnia and Herzegovina (ITA BiH) submitted 22 reports to the Prosecutor’s Office of BiH during the nine months of this year due to the well-founded suspicion that the state budget was damaged by 7.1 million BAM due to tax evasion or fraud. Tax inspectors found 47.3 million BAM in additional obligations during their inspections of taxpayers and filed 2.545 misdemeanor orders in the amount of 8.3 million BAM.
Corruption has a first and last name and cannot be tied to an institution, ITA BiH claims. 532 reports from citizens were registered on the free info-line, of which 26 refer to suspected corruption. Because of this, a report was forwarded to the Prosecutor’s Office of BiH this year against an employee of the ITA BiH.
”From our taxpayers, if they encounter this problem, we expect them to provide us with specific information, without any fear or apprehension about who the person who works in the ITA is if they asked for a bribe or any other form of gift or benefit,” says the Head of Communication and International Relation Cooperation at ITA BiH, Ratko Kovacevic.
Four years ago, Emir Mesic reported corruption in connection with the rental of customs terminals. Although he received whistleblower status, a person who reports corruption in the workplace is protected from reprisals and persecution, he was eventually fired.
”After I reported corruption in the ITA BiH, even though I am a protected reporter, I already have three disciplinary procedures, two demotions, and one termination of employment,‘‘ Mesic stated.
Journalist, Semir Mujkic, who investigated corruption and fraud in the ITA BiH, points out that the Agency for the Prevention of Corruption and Coordination of the Fight against Corruption (APIK) must protect whistleblowers, and prosecutors should solve corruption cases faster. First of all, he points out, corruption within the ITA BiH should be sanctioned, as a message to others that it is not worth it.
”That the system is still not good enough and that, in general, it is not worth reporting corruption, which does not mean that the system should be abandoned. Simply put, we need to talk a lot more about how the system can be improved, what can be done specifically to protect whistleblowers,” Mujkic believes.
Transparency International (TI) BiH also believes that it is inadmissible that instead of APIK protecting the whistleblower, in the case of Mesic, they doubt his good intentions. APIK previously said that they could not link the disciplinary charges against Mesic with the corruption charges.
”The fact that ITA BiH invites citizens is encouraging, however, it is questionable how their inspectors and all employees of ITA BiH would act since we have had serious allegations in the public about the corruption of those inspectors,” says Damjan Ozegovic from TI BiH.
In the campaign ”Stop smuggling” and with the help of reports from citizens, cigarettes and tobacco worth six million BAM were seized this year.