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“What is nonsensical is to have these assets kept and monitored by ICAC”

Declaration of Assets by Magistrates and Judges

Qs & As

* ‘Compelling judges to declare their assets to ICAC would place them under the executive authorityof ICAC’


Declaration of assets by public officials is a powerful tool to deter illicit enrichment and combating corrupt practices says the World Bank and our own Act of Parliament. However, some key issues arise: (i) should those declarations be made publicly available? (ii) is ICAC the right institution, alternatively which structure should safekeep those declarations? and (iii) should the judiciary be exempt from such a provision? There are no standard solutions as contexts differ and Lex shares his views below.

* According to the World Bank, more than 150 countries have introduced asset disclosure requirements for their public officials. This would suggest that assets declarations are considered to be effective in preventing corruption, detecting illicit enrichment and conflicts of interests. Is that indeed the case?

Asset declarations of public officials are a powerful tool to prevent corruption, detect illicit enrichment and conflicts of interests.

Two Ukrainian journalists Dmytro Kotlyar and Laura Pop Ukrainska, writing in 2016, expressed the view as follows: “Public disclosure of the private assets of public officials and family members does not clash with the rights to privacy and data protection. Both rights are not absolute and can be restricted provided there is a basis in law and a legitimate public interest justifies the restriction. Prevention of corruption and exposing unexplained wealth of officials are serious and legitimate public interests.”

Surely this is a powerful argument to justify the concept of declaration of assets.

In a case decided by the European Court of Justice in 2005, the Court rejected the complaint of a local council member in Poland who refused to submit his asset declaration claiming that the obligation to disclose details concerning his financial situation and property portfolio imposed by legislation was in breach of Article 8 of the European Convention of Human Rights on privacy.

* Assets declarations, which can inform us about the financial stakes of government officials that could impact their decisions are usually not available for public consultation. One would have thought that the need for transparency and accountability should have trumped confidentiality issues. What’s your take on that?

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Mauritius Times ePaper Friday 15 April 2022

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