Practical insights: handbooks and toolkits

Asset declarations for public officials: A tool to prevent corruption. OECD, 2011.

This study is aimed at national governments and international organisations engaged in the development, reform and assessment of asset declaration systems at country level. It provides systematic analysis of existing practices in the area of asset declarations in Eastern Europe and Central Asia to examine the impact of disclosure regimes on the actual level of corruption. It examines the key elements of asset declaration systems, such as: policy objectives, legal frameworks and the institutional arrangements; the categories of public officials who are required to submit declarations, and types of required information; procedures for verifying declared information, sanctions for violations and public disclosure. The study also discusses the cost-effectiveness and overall usefulness of declaration systems. Finally, the report presents policy recommendations on the key elements of asset declaration systems. In a series of tables, the report provides a useful overview of a range of comparative country data including the types of institutions tasked with administering asset declaration systems, financial resources assigned to monitoring, forms of public disclosure and the respective number of officials versus staff responsible for verification.  

Anti-corruption transparency monitoring methodology. Access Info, 2011.  

This tool is a practical guide which can be used by civil society, journalists, academics and others to evaluate whether the key information needed to prevent and/or identify corrupt practices within government is in fact readily available. The methodology draws on international anti-corruption treaties, such as the UNCAC, as well as other international standards and best practices, to propose some core classes of information which should be published by democratic and accountable governments. These include, for example, copies of public procurement contracts, assets declarations by public officials and information on decision making in privatisation processes. While this tool does not focus exclusively on disclosure regimes, it has a useful section which provides a range of indicators on asset declaration. These enable citizens to assess whether a country is following good practice in the collection, verification, evaluation and storage of asset declarations.   

Asset disclosure: A guide to best practice in transparency, accountability and civic engagement across the public sector. Transparency & Accountability Initiative, 2011.  

This very succinct report outlines the basic elements of asset declaration systems. In particular, it advocates the inclusion of senior members of the judiciary and the practice of random auditing and verification of asset declarations. Finally, it provides a comprehensive list of the kinds of assets and interests which should be declared by public officials.  

Using asset disclosure for identifying political exposed persons. The World Bank Group, 2012.  

This paper demonstrates the versatility of disclosure regimes, showing how asset declaration can assist the financial sector by undertaking due diligence of politically exposed persons (PEPs). While the detection and monitoring of PEPs to combat money laundering and asset disclosure requirements for public officials are usually designed and implemented separately, this report demonstrates that there is great overlap. Indeed, of the 176 jurisdictions analysed in the report, over 80 per cent have disclosure requirements and the obligation to comply with PEP provisions.  

The authors propose several innovative measures to use asset disclosure tools in order to identify PEPs, and focus on implementation issues involved in the identification of PEPs. While clearly delineating jurisdictions, the report aims to bring together both anti-money laundering and asset disclosure stakeholders and improve coordination between the two groups.  

The puppet masters: How the corrupt use legal structures to hide stolen assets and what to do about it. Stolen Asset Recovery Initiative, 2012.  

This report focuses primarily on the methods used to conceal ill-gotten wealth in a labyrinth of corporate and financial structures. It examines how corporate vehicles (companies, foundations and trusts) are misused and provides an overview of beneficial ownership, its role in facilitating corruption and how to find beneficial owners. As such, its scope goes far beyond public sector ethics, but it does have a short section on how public officials' asset declarations are increasingly being used by investigators to locate beneficial owners. In several of the report's ten case studies, asset declaration systems were an important supplementary tool which helped the authorities to make appropriate links and discern trends or patterns during their investigation.  

The report makes a series of policy recommendations to guide national legislation and regulations, and provides information for practitioners engaged in investigating corrupt officials and academics involved in the study of financial crime.

See also: Barriers to Asset Recovery: An Analysis of the Key Barriers and Recommendations for Action & Asset Recovery Handbook: A Guide for Practitioners, Stolen Asset Recovery Initiative, 2011.  

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