SERVICE FOR FOREIGNERS’ AFFAIRS: Employees reported director Laketa for misuse of budget and donor funds

The Director of the Service for Foreigners’ Affairs, Žarko Laketa, misused hundreds of thousands of BAM of budget and donor funds, and has wielded power arbitrarily, claim the employees of this institution in a letter sent to InfoRadar and the Agency for Prevention of Corruption and Coordination of the Fight Against Corruption of BiH (APiK).

Resentful employees state that Laketa has been abusing his position from the moment he assumed it and that the abuses relate to the residence permits for foreigners, primarily those working with or without a work permit.

The employees claim that Laketa and his close associate ordered the heads of the field centers to rigorously control some businesses, while favoring others and forbidding any controls to be performed in these businesses even though they employ foreigners.

-Those companies of “state interest” (which in practice means – of private interest) are inviting and bringing dozens of employees whose papers are immediately taken care of and who often leave their jobs and continue to illegally migrate to the EU, reads the letter of the employees, who also stress that Laketa is in conflict of interest considering that he is also the head of the Service for Foreigners’ Affairs, the owner of a civil engineering company, the owner of a restaurant, the co-owner of an IT company, and he also does paid work in the Football Association of Bosnia and Herzegovina?!

As we have learned, the employees who decided to report the director for the abuse have also made a report to the Agency for the Prevention of Corruption and Coordination of the Fight Against Corruption of BiH and are waiting for the outcome.

We have asked the Agency if and what they did in this case, but they did not send an answer by the time this article was published.

The employees of the Service also explain that the institution in which they work “had inappropriately spent the IOM’s donor funds on luxury of the acting chief of staff”.

– As part of support to the control of irregular migration the IOM pays for the accommodation of Service inspectors who stay in the territory of the Una-Sana Canton to help their colleagues. However, the same budget is being improperly used for a year to pay for luxurious accommodation with breakfast at the Espana Hotel in Istočno Sarajevo, lunch at the Knez pastry shop and dinner at the Kort market restaurant for Goran Blagojević, a civil servant, while he, as any other employee, has continued receiving meal allowance from the Service, explain the employees stressing that numerous high-ranking officials have been using Service’s vehicles for years already “under the pretext of non-existent operational work”. They added that the vehicles are used for private purposes, on the weekends, holidays and even during vacations and sick days, and can often be seen in Belgrade, Zagreb, Budva, and Split.

Laketa has, according to the employees, put four cars at his disposal that he uses at the same time, namely three expensive official vehicles (VW Passat B8 S-line, Toyota Land Cruiser and Škoda Octavia) and one new low-class vehicle that he gives to drivers for their private purposes.

– As to show off his importance, he tinted the cars’ windows and equipped them with flashing lights and sound-signaling devices, which requires significant funds, say the employees. But they added that numerous abuses don’t end there.

They claim that Blagojević, in addition to having a Peugeot 2008 at his disposal 24/7, also regularly collects transportation costs, while the employee R.K. crashed two cars under the influence of alcohol, and has not been subjected to disciplinary proceedings?!

The employees claim that immediately after he assumed the office, the first man of the Service for Foreigners’ Affairs (who was sentenced to four months in prison and one year probation in November 2001 for abuse of office, author’s note) signed a lease agreement for a property in Lukavica with his own brother to whom the state pays BAM 600 (BAM 36.000 KM during the term).

– It may be legal, but it is immoral and very disgusting. Instead of the apartment he recently bought in Novi Sad, Laketa could have bought an apartment in Istočno Sarajevo and rented it to himself, say the employees.

It doesn’t end there!

Employees of the Service for Foreigners’ say that recruitment of certain persons was also subject of malfeasance.

– Since the beginning of the migrant crisis, numerous international organizations (IOM, UNHCR) have been providing assistance to the Service by financing the hiring of assistants to work with migrants through projects. Thus, there are between 80 and 100 people in the Service who are paid through projects and who, instead of being engaged in temporary reception centers, are assigned to the administration and field centers, and contracts with them are concluded without any recruitment procedure and only at the verbal request of Žarko Laketa and Goran Blagojević, claim the employees and add that “the majority of employees perform their tasks very correctly, while some of them, with the tacit consent of the management, only show up at the workplace for a coffee and immediately go home”.

– The record holders in arrogance are Tomislav Mirosavić (who is a pensioner but also the godfather of director Laketa), Radislav Jovičić (a name known to most from the world of politics) and Dejan Janković who have never, not even for a day, deigned to appear in PPC Lipa where have been assigned according to the decision. However each of them has been regularly collecting BAM 1.400 a month or more than BAM 50.000 annually all three by the orders of Žarko Laketa and Goran Blagojević using false or falsified time sheets, emphasize the employers of the Service for Foreigners’ Affairs.

They emphasize that the lawfulness of business trips and the justification of advance payments (up to  BAM 1.000 per trip) should be investigated, as well as the employment of Aleksandra Kovačević, who performs PR duties in the director’s office.

The workers are also frustrated by the fact “that the Director’s office hires an external associate for the delivery of statistical data from the official records”.

– An external associate has been hired as to complete financially exploit the contracts and unjustifiably waste the budget funds although any of the employees can independently generate the data from the existing information system, which represents an arrogant waste and irresponsible dissipation of budget funds, to say the least.

– Competent authorities should also investigate where did the Director’s office get the precise technical specifications of the IT equipment that they instruct donors to procure through project activities that are measured in hundreds of thousands of Euro, without consulting the competent Department for IT and Technical Affairs, whose task is to take care of IT needs of the Service. Due to personal grudges the director Laketa does not allow IT department employees to take part in training sessions and professional workshops that are delivered under the framework of IPA projects (which means that they are free for security institutions) as to retain IT professionals in the civil service and provide the education necessary for the performance of the tasks, emphasize exasperated employees.

They also add that the service pays for tourist and recreational trips to Majorca and the Netherlands, all from the state budget, and according to them, Laketa “requested and received from OC Jahorina free ski passes for himself, his driver and Aleksandra Kovačević”. According to the employees these passes were earlier given to the inspectors for foreigners as an incentive for more efficient conduct of inspections.

In addition to the foregoing, detailed accusations and the second part of the evidence with documents were forwarded to APiK.

At the end, the employees appeal to the competent authorities to launch an investigation and check all the facts, and to urgently forward criminal complaints to the Prosecutor’s Office.

We have asked the Service for Foreigners’ Affairs and director Laketa to comment on the employees’ allegations. We still haven’t received the answer!



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