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Asset Declarations

last modified Jan 10, 2012 12:00 AM

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.

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AFRICA

In the 1998 Rabat Declaration, the Ministers of Civil Service of 34 African countries proclaimed their belief in "[a] well-performing and transparent public service" and recognized this principle as an "essential prerequisite for private sector growth and Africa's economic recovery." A 2007 World Bank survey found that, in Africa, 28 countries require disclosure of income and assets by public officials. Of these 28 countries, 23 require officials to declare assets to an anti-corruption body or other government entity, while only 5 (Cape Verde, Republic of Central Africa, Liberia, Sao Tome and Principe and South Africa) require publication of the declarations. 20 of the African World Bank client countries do not require income and asset disclosure by public officials.[3]

South Africa

South Africa has implemented a comprehensive conflict of interest policy, and has enacted a number of conflict of interest codes requiring disclosure of financial interests by public officials. According to the Code of Conduct for Assembly and Permanent Council Members (Article 7) and the Public Service Regulations of 2001 (Chapter 3) elected officials and senior managers in the civil service, as well as their spouses and dependent children, must publicly disclose nearly all financial interests, including shares and interests in companies, land and property owned, paid outside employment, directorships and partnerships, consultancies, and gifts received from sources other than friends and family. Although limited portions of this information, such as the value of interests in companies and pensions, amounts of remuneration, and details of private residences and family financial interests, are kept confidential (Code of Conduct, Article 9), the presumption in South Africa favours disclosure of assets.

AMERICAS

A 2006 World Bank survey of 32 countries in Latin America found that full asset declarations by senior officials must be made public in 8 countries: Argentina, Belize, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Jamaica, Mexico, and Nicaragua, Paraguay. In Mexico, over 100,000 public declarations are filed every year, as of 2004. In one additional country, the Bahamas, summaries of financial declarations are published in the Gazette. In Ecuador, declarations must either be made public or authenticated by a notary. Financial declarations must include information for spouses, children, and other financial dependents in at least twelve countries: Belize, Brazil, Chile, El Salvador, Guatemala, Guyana, Honduras, Jamaica, Mexico, Nicaragua, Trinidad and Tobago, and Venezuela. Thus, Belize, Brazil, Chile, Jamaica, and Nicaragua have granted some form of public access to financial declaration information regarding spouses, children, and financial dependents. Following is additional information about specific countries.

Argentina

The Act on Ethics in the Public Office requires every state official, including members of the judiciary, to file a declaration of assets and information, in order to control possible conflicts of interest. The Act also establishes sanctions if the information received is used for illegal, commercial or solicitation purposes, but those sanctions do not apply for the use of information by the media.

According to a 2012 report by the Mexico-based organization FUNDAR, in 2000 the government of Argentina launched an electronic platform for disclosing public officials’ personal assets. This platform allows 36,000 public officials working at the federal level to submit their yearly declarations electronically. Two bodies are in charge of verifying these declarations to identify and sanction corruption. First, the Asset Declaration Unit (ADU) reviews the veracity of a sample of 7% of those declarations, including the ones from the top 5% of senior officials, to detect illicit enrichment or conflicts of interests. Then the Investigations Department investigates cases for which irregularities were detected.

Since the introduction of the platform, the number of disclosure requests increased from 66 to 823. The level of public officials’ compliance with the obligation to declare the assets has increased from 67% to 96%. According to a 2011 report issued by Argentina’s Anticorruption Office, cited by FUNDAR, public officials who do not submit their declaration or who engage in corruption are being investigated. In the first half of 2011, Argentina’s Investigations Department carried forward 10 investigations of illicit enrichment and 58 of non-compliance with the disclosure of personal assets obligation.

Belize

Certain government officials must file financial declarations with the Integrity Commission established under the 1994 Prevention of Corruption in Public Life Act.  This duty applies to “every person in public life,” which includes members of the House of Representatives, the Senate, and local authorities (Section 6(1). The statements must include information about the assets and income of the spouse and children of the declarant.  After the declaration is made, the Commission publishes a certificate in the Gazette.  Any person may file a complaint with the Commission regarding the information, and upon good cause, the Commission may grant access to the declaration. [4] Additionally, the declarations of certain senior officials must be published. [5]

Bolivia

Article 45 of the Constitution requires that every public official submit a financial declaration before taking office.  The 1999 Statute on Public Officials requires that the declarations of elected officials, designated officials, freely-appointed officials, and specially determined career officers be made public (Article 54).  Additionally, under Supreme Resolution 222070, the Presidential Anticorruption Delegate has formed Citizen Anticorruption Networks charged with increasing transparency in public administration. [6]

Brazil

As of 2004, elected administrators and legislators collectively filed over 100,000 public financial declarations each year, and these reports could be accessed electronically. [7] Law No. 8730 of November 10, 1993, establishes the obligation to file a financial declaration in order to hold an office or post or to work in the executive, legislative, and judicial branches. The statements must also include the information for spouses, companions, children, and others economically dependent on the declarant.

Canada

The Canadian financial disclosure law (Conflict of Interest and Post-Employment Code for Public Office Holders, 1999) requires that public officials, from Ministers of Parliament to officers of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, disclose financial assets (Article 4). In adopting the Conflict of Interest Code, the Canadian Parliament recognized the paramount importance of transparency:

The object of this Code is to enhance public confidence in the integrity of public office holders and the decision-making process in government

(a) while encouraging experienced and competent persons to seek and accept public office;

(b) while facilitating interchange between the private and the public sector;

(c) by establishing clear rules of conduct respecting conflict of interest for, and post-employment practices applicable to, all public office holders; and

(d) by minimizing the possibility of conflicts arising between the private interests and public duties of public office holders and providing for the resolution of such conflicts in the public interest should they arise. (Article 2).

In the interest of advancing these principles, the Canadian Code requires disclosure in a public registry of the financial interests of public officials and their spouses and dependent children (Article 9).

The Canadian Code distinguishes between financial interests that must be publicly disclosed and those that remain confidential (Article 9). For example, declarable assets include interests in privately held businesses that do not contract with the government, farms, and real property (Article 11). Assets exempt from the publication requirement are mostly personal assets, such as residences used by the official’s family, certain retirement savings plan assets, automobiles, and works of art (Article 10). In addition, Canadian public officials must divest their controlled assets, which include publicly traded securities, futures, and self-administered retirement plans (Article 12). Liabilities must also be disclosed and the Ethics Counsellor is granted the power to require “that particular arrangements be made to prevent any conflict of interest situation from arising.” (Article 14). Canada’s comprehensive conflict of interest prevention procedures further require confidential disclosure of all outside affiliations, including those of the official’s spouse and dependent children, and public disclosure of all outside affiliations for “Ministers, Secretaries of State and Parliamentary Secretaries.” (Article 16). Generally, the information submitted to the Ethics Counsellor under Canada’s Conflict of Interest Code is subject to being withheld under Canada’s Privacy Act unless disclosure is mandatory by statute.

Chile

According to the 2006 Law No. 20.088 Establishing an Obligation for Authorities Exercising Public Functions [To Provide] Sworn Declarations of Assets, civil servants and members of the legislative and judicial branches and other autonomous agencies must submit sworn declarations of assets and conflicts of interest (Article 1 et seq.).  All assets declarations must include assets held by the official’s spouse and are public in their entirety (Article 1.1). The Chilean Constitutional Tribunal reviewed the constitutionality of Law No. 20.088 before its final promulgation by the Chilean Congress. In a 2005 ruling, the Tribunal held that unrestricted public access to asset declarations is consistent with the Constitution’s privacy protections, provided that third party access to the declarations serves the legitimate goals pursued by the statute. In a partly concurring and partly dissenting opinion, Justice Urbano Marin noted that full publicity of assets declarations is compatible with the constitutional values of transparency and good administration, and does not affect the intimate core of individual or family privacy.  Restricting access to the assets declarations would undermine the overall impact of the statute.

Ecuador

Article 122 of the Constitution establishes the obligation of civil servants to submit sworn financial declarations.  In May, 2003, the Law Regulating Sworn Declarations of Net Worth was enacted to enforce Article 122.  Under the Law on Administrative Careers and the Civil Service, these declarations must be made public or be authenticated by a notary. [8]

Jamaica

The 1973 Parliamentary Integrity of Members Act requires financial declarations from Senators and Members of the House of Representatives, their spouses and children (Section 4 and Section 4(2). These declarations are filed with the Commission for the Prevention of Corruption. [9] The declarations for more senior officials must be made public.[10]

Mexico

A study completed in 2004 found that over 100,000 public reports of financial disclosures are filed every year in Mexico and certain information from these reports is available electronically. The Federal Law on the Administrative Responsibilities of Civil Servants require that information be disclosed relating to spouses, common-law partners, and economic dependents.  The Civil Service Secretariat’s 2001-2006 National Program to Combat Corruption and Promote Transparency and Administrative Development has repeatedly emphasized that increasing citizen participation and transparency of government is indispensable in combating corruption. [11]

Nicaragua

The Constitution requires that all state officials must disclose their assets before assuming office and after leaving it. [12] This constitutional requirement is implemented by the Civil Service Probity Law which requires all civil servants to submit sworn financial declarations.  The declarations of senior officials must be made public. [13] Additionally, through Decree 67 of July 6, 2002, the executive branch formed the Public Ethics Office, which promotes government transparency and citizen participation. [14]

Peru

Article 41 of the Constitution requires all public officials including those who administer or manage government funds or organizations to provide a sworn statement as to their income or assets acquired during their terms of service (Article 2.5).

United States

In response to Watergate and other public scandals and a weakening of the public's trust in government, Congress enacted the Ethics in Government Act of 1978 ("Ethics Act"), which requires detailed financial disclosure by high-level government employees in all three branches of the federal government (Article 101 et seq.). This federal legislation is complemented by a host of financial disclosure laws at both the state and local levels. The Ethics Act requires annual disclosure of financial information by the president, vice president, members of Congress, federal judges, presidential appointees, and other officials and employees earning at or above a specified pay-scale or with policy-making responsibilities (Article 101). The breadth of required disclosures in the U.S. is illustrated by the appended Executive Branch Personnel Public Financial Disclosure Report of the Research and Innovative Technology Administrator of the U.S. Department of Transportation for the year 2006. These required disclosures include the nature, source, and amount of income, gifts and reimbursements, assets and liabilities, and transactions in real property and securities (Article 102). Covered employees must make similar disclosures regarding the finances of their spouses and dependent children (Article 102). The Ethics Act also requires that the disclosures be publicly accessible in full for six years, with limited exceptions (Article 105). The limited exceptions apply to (i) members of the intelligence community (if the President finds that disclosure by such persons would compromise national security), and (ii) members of the judiciary.  Under the Ethics Act, a member of the judiciary's report may be redacted "only (i) to the extent necessary to protect the individual who filed the report or a family member of that individual; and (ii) for as long as the danger to such individual exists" (Article 105.3.B.). Whether a danger exists to a reporting individual such that redaction is appropriate is determined by the Judicial Conference, in consultation with the United States Marshall Service (Article 105.3.D.). Each year the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts must submit a report to Congress detailing the requests for redaction, what type of information has been redacted, and what procedures are in place to ensure there is sufficient public disclosure (Article 105.3.C.).

Today, many of these financial disclosure reports can be found on the Internet.

Some U.S. agencies have a procedure by which to notify filers when their forms are requested. Typically, the requestor fills out a form showing name, address, office telephone number, occupation, and the name and address of any other person/organization on whose behalf access to the material is sought. U.S. law also provides that forms may not be used for any of the following purposes:

  • any commercial purpose, other than by news and communications media for dissemination to the general public;
  • determining or establishing the credit rating of any individual;
  • the solicitation of money for any political, charitable, or other purpose; or
  • any unlawful purpose.

A number of agencies require those requesting access to one or more forms to sign a statement acknowledging these prohibitions.

ASIA AND PACIFIC

Australia

Since 1983, Australia's conflict of interest laws and regulations have required Members of Parliament to disclose their financial interests, including those of their spouses and dependent children (1995 Guidelines on Official Conduct of Commonwealth Public Servants). The Australian House of Representatives and Senate have published these disclosures in a registry since 1984 and 1994, respectively.

India

According to the 1964 Central Civil Service Conduct Rules, all public servants employed by the central or a state government or any other public authority under their control are required under the relevant civil service rules to submit returns of movable and immovable assets owned by them and their immediate family (Rule 18). Periodicity of submission varies from one year to three years. However, these documents are submitted in sealed cover and are not accessible under any law except by courts.

Politicians who contest elections to Parliament or a state legislature are subject to a more rigorous regime. A 2002 Supreme Court judgment requires all electoral candidates to submit on oath, details of movable and immovable assets owned by them, their spouses and their dependents, including liabilities like loans from public sector banks and unpaid bills for public utilities such as electricity, water and telephone connections. These affidavits are submitted along with the nomination papers and the Election Commission uploads them on its website in order to educate voters about the background of these candidates. All candidates are required to submit in these affidavits details of any criminal cases pending against them that are at least six months old. A similar declaration of assets and liabilities has become the norm for candidates contesting elections to local self-governing bodies in several states.

Upon winning an election, every Member of Parliament is required to submit an annual statement of assets owned by him/her and his/her dependents to the presiding officer of the house (The Members of the Lok Sabha Declaration of Assets Rules 2004, Rule 3). The same applies to the newly elected Members of the State Legislator (The Members of the Rajya Sabha Declaration of Assets Rules 2004, Rule 3). The information on assets and liabilities is entered into a register and treated as confidential (Rule 4.4.). Access to such records has not been granted under the RTI Act either. Several states have passed subordinate legislation granting a right of access to the records and documents of panchayat (village) and municipal bodies to (a) the elected representatives, and (b) all adults eligible to vote in the elections to these bodies. For example, Section 9 of the 1994 Punjab Panchayati Raj Act requires the officers of the panchayats at the village level to proactively disclose a statement of income and expenditure at the annual meetings of the village body (gram sabha). In November 2011, the Government of Jammu and Kashmir made assets of the administrative officers’ public via official website of the General Administration Department (GAD). Public financial disclosure was introduced following the Public Information Officer’s earlier decision that GAD “should host such immovable property details of officers which are owned and acquired by them out of their own sources of income on government website.” [15]

Japan

Senior public officials must file reports on gifts received in excess of ¥5,000 (approximately US $45), securities transactions, and income in excess of ¥1,000,000 (US $9,430) (Articles 6-8 of the 1999 National Public Service Ethics Law), parts of which are available for review by the public (Article 9).

New Zealand

According to the 2008 Standing Orders of the House of Representatives, Members of Parliament "must make returns of pecuniary interests," including those of their spouses and dependent children (Articles 159-162). The interest is broadly defined as "a direct financial benefit that might accrue to a member personally, or to any trust, company or other business entity in which the member holds an appreciable interest." (Article 160.1.). The Order only requires disclosure of the interest and not its actual value (Appendix B, Part 1, Article 9). All such returns are published in the Register of Pecuniary Interest of Members of Parliament within 90 days after a general election (Appendix B, Part 1, Article 2.1.).

Philippines

Since 1987, Filipinos have had the right to review financial disclosures of all public officials and employees, including their spouses and unmarried minor children living in their households, pursuant to Section 8 of the 1989 Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees. These financial disclosures, which must be "made available for inspection at reasonable hours," (Section 8(c)(1) contains information about all real property, personal property, investments, liabilities, and business interests (Section 8(a). This right of the public is reinforced by the Constitution. Article XI (Accountability of Public Officers), Sec. 17 states:

A public officer or employee shall, upon assumption of office and as often thereafter as may be required by law, submit a declaration under oath of his assets, liabilities, and net worth. In the case of the President, the Vice President, the members of the Cabinet, the Congress, the Supreme Court, the Constitutional Commissions and other constitutional offices, and officers of the armed forces with general or flag rank, the declaration shall be disclosed to the public in the manner provided by law.

The Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism has posted the asset declarations of Congress and the Cabinet in an online database.

South Korea

South Korea began requiring public disclosure of the financial interests of public officials in 1993 with the Public Service Ethics Act. All high-ranking public officials, their spouses, and many of their lineal ascendants and descendants must disclose their ownership of real property, intangible property, and shares in nonpublic business entities (Article 4). Intangible property disclosure is limited to (1) cash, deposits, securities, debts, and claims worth more than ten million won (about $10,900); (2) intangible property right that yield more than ten million won per year; (3) gold, platinum, precious stones, curios, and memberships worth more than five million won (about $5,450); and (4) transportation vehicles (Article 4.2.).

In addition to examination by a Public Ethics Committee (Article 9), the property declarations of most of these public officials and their families are published in a public bulletin within one month of their submission (Article 10). Persons running for certain national and local elected offices must publish their property disclosures immediately upon declaring their candidacy (Article 10.2.).

Thailand

According to the 1999 Organic Act on Counter Corruption, all political office-holders and high-ranking public officials must make full disclosure of all assets and liabilities, including those of their spouses and minor children (Article 32). The National Counter Corruption Commission is responsible for publishing the financial disclosures of a number of the highest ranking public officials in the Government Gazette (Article 40).

EUROPE

Nearly every country in Europe has some form of financial disclosure requirement for public officials. The Group of States Against Corruption (GRECO) of the Council of Europe in 2001 adopted a Model Code of Conduct for Public Officials that includes a requirement for declaration of private interests (Article13 and 14) and a broad definition of conflict of interest, including apparent and potential conflicts of interest (Article 13). The OECD 2003 Recommendation of the Council on Guidelines for Managing Conflict of Interest in the Public Service also asserts that public officials' disclosures should be targeted at all apparent and potential conflicts of interest, rather than limited to direct, current conflicts.

According to 2006 World Bank survey, Central or Eastern European countries that require public access to financial interest statements of at least the top government officials include Albania, Bulgaria, Croatia, Estonia, Georgia, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, Russia, and the Ukraine. The benefits reaped as a result of such democratizing efforts have included increased foreign direct investment, relative political and economic stability, and, for some, EU accession.

Bulgaria

The EU accession process became an impetus for the increased focus on corruption and anti-corruption measures in Bulgaria. In the 2001 National Anti-Corruption Strategy, the Government noted that its adoption was a significant prerequisite for guaranteeing membership in the EU. [16]

The Bulgarian Public Disclosure of Senior Public Officials Financial Interests Act was adopted in 2000 and amended every year in the period between 2002 and 2008. [17] Senior public officials, ranging from the President, the members of the Parliament to the judges of the highest courts, have to submit their property and income declarations to the public register (Article 2). Declarations include information about the real estate, owned vehicles, “securities, shares in limited liability companies and commandite [partnership] companies, registered shares in joint-stock companies, also acquired through participation in privatisation transactions, other than cases of bond (mass) privatization” and other income.” (Article 3).

Verification of declarations is carried out by the Bulgarian National Audit Office (Article 7). According to Article 5 of the Law, “[e]very person has the right to access the data in the public register […]. Access shall be allowed through the website of the National Audit Office, subject to the Personal Data Protection Act”. The registry contains both submitted declarations and names of individuals who failed to declare their assets, income and/or property (Article 6).

On 31 October 2008 a new Law on the Prevention and Disclosure of Conflict of Interests was promulgated. It imposes various requirements on officials who perform public duties and also regulates the procedure for declaring incompatibility and disclosure of personal interests. [18] The declaration includes information regarding participation in the activity trade companies or in their controlling organs; liabilities over BGN 5,000 (around EUR 2,500 euros) in domestic or foreign currency; contracts related to the activity of the occupied public post; and private interests (Article 14.2.).

Estonia

According to the 1999 Anti-Corruption Act a wide range of civil servants (Article 13) submit asset declarations containing information about immovable property, vehicles, securities, proprietary claims against other persons and proprietary obligations to other persons (Article 14.1.). In addition, the declaration must contain information about income (Article 14.3.) and concerning received proprietary and other benefits exceeding a certain value for the previous year (Article 14.2.). Declarations are published in a register and can be accessed by anyone holding a digital identity card (Article 16.1.).

Latvia

Latvia has one of the most comprehensive financial disclosure systems in Europe, which has arguably led to the reduction of once-rampant corruption in this post-Soviet democracy. 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 (ranked 58th) out of 10 in 1999 to 4.9 (ranked 54th) out of 10 in 2012. The basis for Latvia's strong conflict of interest protections is its FOI Law and the Law on Prevention of Conflict of Interest in Activities of Public Officials. Public officials, ranging from the president to notaries, soldiers, and city council members, must disclose their financial and personal interests as well as those of their relatives (Conflict of Interest Law, Article 21). The declarations must include information about the public officials' and their relatives' income, property, stock and other securities, savings, transactions performed, debts, and loans given (Article 24). The only categories of information in this comprehensive disclosure that are not publicly accessible are the official's place of residence and personal identification number (Article 26). All of the financial interests are disclosed, and declarations of high-ranking officials are published in the government Official Gazette (Article 26).

Lithuania

To ensure transparency and integrity of public administration, Lithuania introduced a two-fold mechanism consisting of (i) declaration of assets and incomes of individuals, and (ii) declaration of private interests that could give rise to conflicts with his or her public duties. The decentralized institutional system relies on a shared responsibility among various national and municipal institutions. [19]

The main laws regulating the set-up and essence of the asset declaration and conflict of interest system in Lithuania are the Law on Declaration of the Property and Income of Residents and the Law on the Adjustment of the Public and Private Interests in the Public Service.

Persons who are required to declare private interests include state politicians, government officials, civil servants, judges, military professionals, military servicemen, persons working in state enterprises and enterprises owned by self-government, candidates for the Parliament and others (Public and Private Interests Law, Article 2.2.). Declarations of assets and incomes have to be submitted by public political appointees, civil servants, notaries, judges, Cabinet members and others (Property and Income Declaration Law, Article 2.1.). The duty to declare income and assets extends to family members (spouses and children under 18 years living together) of the said officials (Article 2.2.).

In 2009 public could access private interests’ declarations of more than 11 000 officials, and income and asset declarations of more than 44 000 officials and civil servants. The data is published annually in a special issue of the state newspaper (Official Gazette). [20]

According to a study conducted by Transparency International Lithuania in 2008, when respondents were asked which corruption reduction measures are the most effective ones, they ranked “background checks of public officials, monitoring transparency of their family property” at fifth place (31% in 2008, as compared to 29% in 2004). [21]

Romania

Romania has a robust system of publishing public officials' asset disclosures, grounded in a constitutional right of access to information. The asset declaration regime in Romania is primarily regulated by Law No. 115/1996 regarding declarations of assets and controlling the wealth of public officials, magistrates, public servants and persons with leading positions and Law No. 161/2003 concerning a number of measures for ensuring transparency in exercising public office, in public functions and in the business environment, and the prevention and punishment of corruption. OECD Report from 2011 identified 21 categories of public officials - including the President, MPs, local elected representatives, heads of governmental agencies, employees of local and central public authorities - who must disclose their financial and other positions. It is estimated that approximately 300 000 public officials should file the wealth and interests statements yearly, which means approximately 80% of the persons working in the public sector. Declarations of wealth cover the public official, spouse and dependent (p. 121).In addition to personal property and income, financial positions include deposits, claims, bonds, and other income of more than EUR 10,000, and gifts of more than EUR 300  resulting from protocol activities (Law No. 161/2003, Annex I). All such disclosures are published on the website of the relevant government agency.

United Kingdom

According to Article 6 of the 2012 Code of Conduct, the House of Commons has two distinct but overlapping and interdependent mechanisms for the disclosure of the personal financial interests of its Members: registration of interests in a Register which is open for public inspection; and declaration of interest in the course of debate in the House and in other contexts

The Register was set up in May 1974 and is maintained by the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards. The purpose of the Register is to encourage transparency and accountability; it is not intended to be an indicator of a member of parliament’s personal wealth, nor is registration an indication that a member is at fault. [22]

While the obligation to register outside employment, sponsorship, property and shareholdings is absolute, in respect of other gifts and benefits the requirement is only to register those interests which in any way arise out of membership of the House of Commons. In line with this principle, the interests of spouses, partners and dependent children must be registered only if they arise out of their relative's position as a Member, or if they are held jointly with, or by, the member. [23]

In 1974 the House replaced a long standing convention with a rule that any relevant financial interest or benefit of whatever nature, whether direct or indirect, should be declared in debate, or other proceeding (Code of Conduct, Article 72).

The rule relating to declaration of interest is broader in scope than the rules relating to the registration of interests in three important respects. As well as current interests, Members are required to declare both relevant past interests and relevant interests which they may be expecting to have. Members are also required to declare relevant indirect interests, for instance those of a spouse or partner, and also non-registrable interests of a financial nature where these are affected by the proceedings in question (as, for instance the possession of a second home when the council tax treatment of these is under discussion) (Article 73).

The 2010 Code of Conduct for Members of the House of Lords sets out a similar two-fold system is in place for the registration of interests of the Members of the House of Lords (pp. 12-20).

Government ministers are effectively covered by the disclosure regime as they are almost always sitting MPs or members of the House of Lords. There are no formal asset disclosure regulations for the head of state or civil servants. [24]



 

[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] U4 Anti-Corruption Resource Centre, African Experience of Asset Declarations (2008),  p. 3.

[4] Committee of Experts of MESICIC, Report on Implementation in Belize (2006).

[5] Messick, Richard, Regulating Conflict of Interest: International Experience with Asset Declaration and Disclosure (2007).

[6] Committee of Experts of MESICIC, Report on Implementation in the Republic of Bolivia (2004); Second Report (2007).

[7] Raile, Eric, Managing Conflicts of Interest in the Americas: A Comparative Review (2004), Appendix A.

[8] Committee of Experts of MESICIC, Report on Implementation in the Republic of Ecuador (2004); Second Report (2006).

[9] Committee of Experts of MESICIC, Report on Implementation in Jamaica (2005).

[10] Messick, Richard, Regulating Conflict of Interest: International Experience with Asset Declaration and Disclosure (2007).

[11] Committee of Experts of MESICIC, Report on Implementation in Mexico (2005); Second Report (2007).

[12] Committee of Experts of MESICIC, Report on Implementation in Nicaragua (2003); Second Report (2006).

[13] Messick, Richard, Regulating Conflict of Interest: International Experience with Asset Declaration and Disclosure (2007).

[14] Committee of Experts of MESICIC, Report on Implementation in Nicaragua (2003); Second Report (2006).

[15] Greater Kashmir, Govt Makes Assets of IAS, KAS Officers Public (2012).

[16] UNDP, Institutional Arrangements to Combat Corruption: A Comparative Study (2006), p. 39.

[17] OECD, Asset Declarations for Public Officials: A Tool to Prevent Corruption (2011), p. 44.

[18] Nikolova, Rayna, Bulgaria: Law on Prevention and Disclosure of Conflict of Interests (2009).

[19] OECD, Asset Declarations for Public Officials: A Tool to Prevent Corruption (2011), p. 108.

[20] OECD, Asset Declarations for Public Officials: A Tool to Prevent Corruption (2011), p. 113.

[21] OECD, Asset Declarations for Public Officials: A Tool to Prevent Corruption (2011), p. 114. Respondents recognized that the most effective measures were the following: “introduction of stricter court punishment for corruption, adoption of stricter laws” (52%), “prohibition for public officials who committed an offence to work in state bodies” (47%), and “introduction of stricter administrative sanctions, increase of fines, and dismissal from work” (46%).

[22] U4 Anti-Corruption Resource Centre, International Experience with Asset Declarations (2008), p. 4.

[23] U4 Anti-Corruption Resource Centre, International Experience with Asset Declarations (2008), p. 4.

[24] World Bank, Public Accountability Mechanisms: United Kingdom.