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Asset Declarations, Salaries and Remunerations

last modified Sep 09, 2013 12:45 PM

Overview

An ever-growing number of countries have adopted ethics and anti-corruption laws that require public officials to declare their assets and income and, increasingly, the assets and income of their spouses and dependent children. The officials who are required to declare, and the amount of detail required, vary significantly from country to country. While the requirement to declare income and assets generally is imposed by anti-corruption laws, these laws generally do not require that all of the declared information be made public and indeed some laws only require disclosure to a public agency.

The principal goal of income and asset disclosure systems is to combat corruption. In a growing number of cases, information published in asset declarations has led to the exposure of substantial unjust enrichment. Several countries with detailed disclosure requirements, such as Latvia,[1] have experienced a decline in corruption. Among other benefits, asset disclosure programs enhance the legitimacy of government in the eyes of the public and stimulate foreign direct investment. There is now a growing trend toward requiring financial disclosure by government officials, including publication of asset declarations, in order to combat corruption, foster public confidence in government, and encourage foreign investment. [2] According to a 2006 World Bank survey of 147 countries that receive World Bank assistance, 101 require senior government officials to declare their income and/or assets, of which some 31 (more than 30%) require that the declarations or a summary thereof be made available to the public. A more extensive World Bank survey of 176 jurisdictions completed in 2012 shows that 137 (78%) have financial disclosure systems. 93% of those countries require disclosure for cabinet members, 91% for Members of Parliament and 62% for high-ranking prosecutors. However, only 43% of countries provide the public with open access to public officials’ financial disclosures.

Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) have greatly expanded the ability to collect and disseminate information about assets and income of public officials. For instance, Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Guatemala, Mexico, Panama and Paraguay have been at the forefront of efforts in Latin America to design and create electronic platforms that publish information about government officials’ personal assets (and also about procurement), according to a 2012 report by FUNDAR.

Several court decisions have affirmed that laws that require publication of asset and income declarations do not offend privacy or other fundamental rights. See summaries of relevant cases in the RTI Case Law Database.

An annotated list of publications concerning income and asset declarations may be found on the Publications page. In a related development, in early 2014 Pakistan became the fourth country to make tax records public.

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Asset Declarations

See archive.

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Salaries of Public Officials

See archive.

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Remuneration of Executives and Directors of Public Companies and State-Owned or State-controlled Companies

There is a strong international trend to require disclosure regarding the remuneration of directors and executives of both publicly traded, non-state affiliated companies as well as for SOEs. For instance, the OECD Guidelines on Corporate Governance call for the disclosure of compensation to individual board members and key executives, termination and retirement provisions, and any specific facility or in-kind remuneration provided to management. The European Union has for several years been working on a model set of disclosure requirements for companies in the EU.[3]

This archived section provides brief summaries of the disclosure regimes in various countries throughout the world. The discussion focuses in part on disclosure requirements applicable to non-state affiliated, publicly traded companies (and not SOEs). However, the disclosure requirements applicable to non-state affiliated, publicly traded companies should apply equally to SOEs where the same issues regarding lack of information, agency conflicts and need for development of best practices in the area of remuneration are just as, if not more, acute.

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[1]For instance, according to Transparency International's Corruption Perception Index, which measures perceptions of public sector corruption in 180 countries and territories, Latvia's score has increased from 3.4 out of 10 in 1999 to 4.9 out of 10 in 2012.

[2] ADB/OECD, Anti-Corruption Policies in Asia and the Pacific, Progress in Legal and Institutional Reform in 25 Countries (2006).

[3] See 2004 O.J. (L 385) 55, 14.12.2004; see also European Union: European Commission, Report on the Application by Member States of the EU of the Commission Recommendation on Directors’ Remuneration, 13 July 2007, SEC (2007) 1022; Statement of the European Corporate Governance Forum on Director Remuneration 1 (March 23, 2009).

Archive

You will find detailed country information that is not regularly updated in our Archive.

Relevant cases

 

Relevant Cases

Title:Country:Year:Court / Arbiter:
Casas Chardon v. Ministry of Transportation Peru 2009 Constitutional Senior officials have to disclose asset declarations concerning their income and other benefits paid by the public sector and also concerning their real estate interests and movable property recorded in a public register. Given that all detailed asset declarations are made available to the national audit agency and only a summary to the public, information on private income is properly restricted on the grounds of privacy and security of a person.
Ciarán Toland supported by Sweden, Finland and Denmark v. European Parliament European Union 2011 International / EU Parliament may not refuse to disclose audit reports unless it explicitly determines that (i) disclosure of a requested document would specifically and actually undermine a protected interest, and there is no overriding public interest justifying disclosure, and (ii) the risk of the protected interest being undermined is reasonably foreseeable and not purely hypothetical.
Corporate Officer of the House of Commons v. Information Commissioner, Brooke, Leapman, and Ungoed-Thomas United Kingdom 2008 Appellate Given legitimate public interests at stake, specific details regarding the expenditures and addresses of Members of Parliament are to be disclosed under the Freedom of Information Act of 2000, notwithstanding protections under the Data Protection Act of 1998 against disclosure of personal information.
Empresa Folha da Manhã S/A v. the President of the House of Representatives Brazil 2009 Supreme The House of Representatives has a duty to disclose to the media information about expenses of its members.
In re Constitutionality of Law No. 20.088 Chile 2005 Constitutional Constitutional amendments providing unrestricted public access to asset declarations of public officials are constitutional and do not conflict with the right of privacy guaranteed by Article 19.
Kariuki v. Attorney General Kenya 2011 First instance The salaries and allowances of the Armed Forces personnel are not private or confidential and must be disclosed to the requester and the Court.
Legal Defence & Assistance Project (Gte) Ltd. V. Clerk of the National Assembly of Nigeria Nigeria 2012 First instance The salaries of the Members of Parliament are not personal information and should be disclosed.
Non-Governmental Organizations Center Razgrad v. the National Revenue Agency - Razgrad Bulgaria 2010 Supreme When tax data of a third party is sought the respective authority must seek consent of the third party to disclose information; the burden to obtain the consent cannot be shifted to the applicant.
The CPIO, Supreme Court of India v. Subhash Chandra Agarwal & Anr. India 2009 Appellate Asset declarations of Supreme Court judges should be disclosed if there is public interest in disclosure; where the interest is shown, the authority should consult the judge concerned and balance the interest in disclosure against privacy concerns.
Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) and Another v. Union of India and Another India 2003 Supreme Voters have a fundamental right to know relevant qualifications of candidates for office, including information about their income and assets. Accordingly, a section of a law stating that candidates could not be compelled to disclose any information about themselves other than their criminal records was unconstitutional.
Union of India (UOI) v. Respondent: Association for Democratic Reforms and Another; with People's Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) and Another v. Union of India (UOI) and Another India 2002 Supreme Citizens have a right to know about public functionaries and candidates for office, including their assets and criminal and educational backgrounds, which right is derived from the constitutional right to freedom of speech and expression.
Uzoegwu F.O.C. Esq v. Central Bank of Nigeria & Attorney-General of the Federation Nigeria 2012 First instance The salaries of high-level officials at the Central Bank of Nigeria are not personal information and should be disclosed under the FOI Act.