Brčko Lawmaker Arrested on Corruption Charges Involving Misuse of Grants

Ćazim Dačaj, lawmaker in Brčko District Assembly is suspected of doling out grants to citizens associations in exchange for half of the money.

Basic Court in Brčko District ordered one month’s detention of lawmaker Ćazim Dačaj. Prosecutors accused Brčko District lawmaker Dačaj of abusing office while doling out grants to nongovernmental associations over the past five years.

“This Assembly lawmaker is suspected of providing certain citizen associations with operating grants in exchange for half of that money,” stated Brčko District Prosecutor’s Office. “In this manner he has obtained at least 160,000 KM in illicit gain.”

Dačaj was arrested on July 20 and detained to avoid witness tampering.

Last year, the Center for Investigative Reporting (CIN) in Sarajevo investigated his misuse of grants. Dačaj, an ethnic minority representative, joined the Assembly with 384 votes. At least hundred votes he received thanks to grants he doled out, he told CIN reporters.

Grants in Brčko to Friends and Voters
Doling out grants to non-governmental organizations has become a lucrative business for their founders and local politicians in Brčko District. Politicians buy votes in this way, while their friends from associations spend money without oversight.

Reporters uncovered that lawmakers used grant money to line their friends’ and party colleagues’ pockets and win election votes. During 2018 and 2019, District’s lawmakers doled out more than 9 million KM without any checks and balances to various associations.

The associations’ representatives squandered taxpayer money – on themselves and their friends and to buy expensive furniture and equipment. They also did not follow regulations when submitting bills to justify spending and they got away with it because no government institution in the Brčko District was tasked with oversight of this expenditure.

Over the last and the previous year, Dačaj doled out 650,000 KM to the associations. Half of them were founded only several months before he gave them money. There’s no information about their activities and CIN reporters could not found them at their registered address.

Brčko District Prosecutor’s Office investigated grant misuses and after CIN’s story it started investigating abuses CIN reporters uncovered.

Brčko Prosecutor’s Office Investigates Grant Misuse
Brčko District’s Prosecutor’s Office is investigating cases of grant misuse that CIN reporters have put under the spotlight.

This year, lawmakers lost access to budget funds they had used to finance local associations. This money has been redirected to fight COVID-19.

Lawmakers Denied Money They Used for Buying Votes
Lawmakers in the Brčko District’s Assembly lost access to budget funds they had earlier used to buy votes by financing local associations. This money has been redirected to fight COVID-19.