Penalties to Parties Don’t Match Ill-gotten Gains

This October, Central Election Commission of Bosnia and Herzegovina (CIKBiH) levied 82,700 KM combined in fines to 33 political parties for violations of the Law on Financing Political Parties during 2009.

The parties were penalized for poor book keeping as well as accepting illicit contributions, say CIK officials.

The biggest fine of 9,000 KM was meted out to the Party for BiH for collecting illegal donations, by using offices at Banovići Worker’s Home and Kakanj Planning and Construction Institute free of charge, and accepting contributions from four public agencies, said CIK’s spokeswoman Maksida Pirić.

The parties are prohibited by law from accepting contributions from public companies and public agencies. For violation of this clause, as well as for accepting a contribution over the ceiling a fine of up to three times the received amount may be levied. For all other infringements, the law limits fines to 10,000 KM.

The Center for Investigative Reporting (CIN) in Sarajevo published a story this summer in which it showed how parties often accepted illicit contributions over the past years. They were rarely punished, or the fines were less than the ill-gotten gains.

For Parties It Pays To Break the Law
Violating the law pays off for BiH’s leading political parties even when they are caught at it. Fines are so small, violations usually get repeated.

According to the audit reports on financing of political parties, the parties accepted illicit contributions exceeding 238,000 KM combined in 2009, or three times the amount they were fined.

In some cases a fine accounted to one-sixth of the gain.

The Social Democratic Party profited the least from illicit contributions (53,000 KM) and was punished by 8,000 KM in fines.

However, CIK has mainly levied minimal fines – between 200 and several thousand KM, because it does not want to ‘destroy’ a party with harsher penalties.

CIK officials say that in individual cases violations cannot be proved so CIK does not mete out fines even in cases where wrong-doing can be proved, because they said, that would be discriminatory.

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