Dragan Čović punished for conflict-of-interest violation

The Commission deciding on conflict of interest punished Dragan Čović, the president of the HDZBiH, with a 10 percent salary reduction for one month, and Nenad Nešić, the president of the DNS, with a 10 percent salary reduction for six months.

In 2020, Dragan Čović, as a deputy of the House of Peoples of the Parliamentary Assembly of BiH, received an average monthly salary of BAM 4,930 (Photo: CIN)

Dragan Čović, president of the Croatian Democratic Union of Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) and a deputy in the House of Peoples of the BiH Parliamentary Assembly (PSBiH), was fined a 10 percent salary reduction for the conflict-of-interest violation committed in 2017.

Back in 2018, the Center for Investigative Reporting (CIN) wrote about  Čović, then a member of the BiH Presidency, potentially being in a conflict of interest because the Croatian National Assembly (HNS), a political non-governmental organization he manages, received money from the budget. In 2017, HNS received a total of BAM 16,750 from the budget for the organization of the 25th anniversary of the Croatian Defense Council (HVO).

Missing Quorum for Čović Decision

The money was paid from the West Herzegovina, Posavina and Canton 10 budget reserves intended for emergencies and contingencies such as floods, earthquakes, or fires. The Law on Conflict of Interest in BiH Institutions prohibits elected officials from holding responsible positions in non-governmental organizations where they are financed from the budget in amounts exceeding BAM 10,000 per year. Čović was elected president of the HNS in 2014.

That is why the Commission deciding on the conflict of Interest sanctioned him by imposing a 10% salary reduction for one month.

Čović’s average monthly salary in the House of Peoples of the Parliament of Bosnia and Herzegovina in 2020 was BAM 4,930. His total income in 2020 was BAM 74,795, which, in addition to his salary, also included perks such as a meal allowance, a flat-rate allowance, a living-away-from-home allowance, accommodation, per diems, and a holiday allowance.

“This decision we made unanimously,” said the Commission President Mira Pekić after the session.

The Commission comprised the members of the House of Representatives and the House of Peoples of the PABiH: Mira Pekić from the Party of Democratic Progress, Bariša Čolak and Mijo Matanović from HDZBiH, Edin Mušić from the Party of Democratic Action, Munib Jusufović from the Party for a Better Future, Sredoje Nović from the Alliance of Independent Social Democrats and the director and deputy director of APIK (Agency for Prevention of Corruption and Anti-Corruption Coordination).

The two previous attempts of initiating the conflict-of-interest proceedings before the Commission against Čović failed due to lack of a quorum. The first time, Croatian members of the Commission were absent – Bariša Čolak and Borjana Krišto, both Čović’s colleagues from HDZBiH, and the second time the session was not held due to the absence of Serb members.

On March 3 this year, the Commission deciding on the conflict of Interest punished Nenad Nešić, the president of the Democratic People’s Alliance, for conflict-of-interest violation.  He held two public positions at the same time – a member of the House of Representatives of the Parliamentary Assembly of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the acting director of the Public Company “Putevi Republike Srpske”.

He was therefore punished by a 10% salary reduction for six months.